Friday, June 29, 2012

The square peg and round hole

I am plagued by a question that a friend asked me last evening. I'm paraphrasing "What if anything seems to help your child when the ADHD/bipolar starts REALLY affecting everyone around?" The question was much more pleading and delicately posed. I could not answer at that moment. Probably because my answer requires too many subtleties and nuances for brief conversation. Mostly, I was dumbstruck.

I have a compassionate affection for his son, he reminds me of my older sister as a child. Having lost sleep last night over this I must attempt to congeal my feelings into a comprehensive and expressible thought. By the way, I know that I risk appearing judgmental--please don't take it that way. My motivations are love and compassion.

In comparing my child to his I feel as though I have been given certain liberties. My child is fine, your child is fine. He is simply a square peg and society is a round hole. There are two clear paths to take. Shave the square peg and attempt to fit him into the round hole. Or, wallow the hole out so that the square peg might fit.

Recent society overwhelmingly says whittle down the edges with drugs and conveniently that child fits. But what about those missing parts? What about the gaps? The missing parts are what makes your child unique. The gaps are to forever be filled with dependency on drugs--a behavior he is learning right now. To fit in I must take my medicine.

The most difficult path is the latter. It is difficult for everyone involved--especially you. Society seems unyielding and unrelenting in it's expectations. You must alter society and his surroundings for him. I know it sounds crazy but imagine what you are teaching him. As he grows up he will realize that he can mold the world around him. Soon he will know how to mold his world by second nature. Think of the truly great and successful people. They are the ones that mold the world around them.

Admittedly the square peg must be facing the proper direction but it indeed has a place to fit. That is your reprieve as a parent. There will be those moments where the stars align and everything just works. Your son is clever can realize this. He will alter his behavior to fit into an attractively shaped hole. It is the near impossible path since it is likely not in your nature to alter society, to change the rules, to stand out. Love will win-out.

I might fail at this tomorrow or in ten years. But, having had a sister on ritalin her entire childhood gives me an unusual perspective. For me this is what feels right. I (with my wife's help) can and will make a square hole for my child to fit. Else, I will fail but at least I have followed my heart to what I believe is right.


jenny said...

My nephew, 9, is on drugs and they have changed him completely. I miss the crazy, wild little boy that used to hug me and chatter away, showing me all his cars and transformer figures. He stayed with us and after a bit of adjustment, learned to mind our rules and play well with our kids. I always thought he just needed a bit of patience and room to run to burn off that excess energy.

2 years ago, at the advice of a TEACHER, they put him on drugs (not sure what kind) and now he has numerous tics, isolates himself from the rest of us, constantly moody and fights with his siblings, doesn't eat meals with the family and I don't think anyone is taking the time to just BE with him. I admit, I cannot understand him anymore, with his tics and fast-talking voice and I have to ask my husband to translate. I often dream of taking him home with me, weaning him off the drugs and then nurturing him naturally, giving him room to grow and adjust. I feel so sorry for him, and it's out of my hands, as the parents are of the type to listen to "educated people with degrees" more than people with experience and no degrees. I can't imagine how they think his behavior now is better than it was previously, but I don't live with them and I only see them 6 times a year at family functions. If it were me, I would always explore alternate options and lots of patience before resorting to drugs.

Abigail said...

Wonderful post, Karl. I am currently working on carving out a square space for my child. His school is more square than most schools but he still doesn't quite fit in the hole.

Patt said...

I have a daughter who is on the Autistic spectrum.....Should she adjust who she is to society's expectations or should she make her world adapt to her? We've done a little of both; she will fine a balance that will fit her. I appreciate your thoughts on this...

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