Huggy, don’t cry.

“Dad!” Matthew yelled, “Maleigh just poured the clear glue into a bowl!” He was plopping himself into the truck as he griped.

Maleigh studies each step off of the porch as she descends while holding back tears. She’d already been scolded by big brother and little momma Tiny. She gets into the truck with a big brother (who is fuming at this point), sits down quietly in her car seat, puts her head in her hands and begins to cry in a way that isn’t her usual (she can win awards, my friend.)

“Huggy, that was his and you knew that.”

Her cry became more painful as she said, “I wanted to make him something special, Da-dee.”

Matthew and I immediately looked at each other, deflated. We felt her words in our heart. This little girl… Jesus. Our Huggy. What I saw was a little girl who fights for her place at the table and who always wants approval from Auggie and Tiny with her projects or feats. She wanted to make a “symbiote” slime (In the Spiderman universe there’s an alien that looks like black slime that gives you powers which Auggie digs it big time) and give her to her big brother.

A couple of mintues later I looked at Auggie and said, “I believe her, bubba.”

His face became soft and he said, “I do too Da-da.”

-I wanted to explain that we often jump to conclusions but I feel like it was understood in that moment.

Huggy was the baby before the baby. It’s easy for her to feel left out or looked over and probably why she loves hugs because that moment, a hug, is her’s alone.

This past year has been an amazing challenge. I’ve gotten closer to God and become a better Da-da (spoken like a drum beat), Daaaad (long form) and Da-Dee (It’s in Huggy speak and I can’t explain it but it flips my “yes, baby, I will move that mountain” switch when she says that which is typically after I err on the side of caution and she says, “it’s okay Da-dee, I can do it.” We’ve all gotten closer and I went into dark places at times but God has and is seeing me through, seeing us through. My joy is being Auggie’s, Tiny’s, Huggy’s and Bubby’s Deddy. My only drive is for them and then my family.

I try to see them everyday and it’s a blessing to me that I can. Most relationships don’t operate that way due to… whatever made them fail. We have fun on our days and I bring snacks on off days. It’s not what I envisioned but it’s my life right now. For a moment, it was Auggie that needed me most. Then Tiny. Now Huggy. I can only assume that it will change hands multiple times as life moves forward. Just yesterday, Huggy squeezed my neck with all her little might and cried to go with me. That’s a bittersweet pill to swallow. As with Auggie before, I have to explain carefully what and why. Huggy is almost six years old and she feels as if she has to work harder for attention or acknowledgement and she can NEVER be made to feel that way by her Deddy, her Da-Dee, or I am failing. I sometimes plan our next day in those moments trying to give them something to look forward too. Glow-in-the-dark slime it is!

Earlier that day, as soon as I parked the truck and turned off the engine she was opening the door with a smile that was bigger than she was.

“I cried today, Da-Dee,” she spoke through her smile.

“Aww, Huggy, don’t cry. Why’d you cry, baby?”

“I watched a sad video where her Daddy died. She went to college too. Please, please, please, watch it with me.”

Auggie was with us at this point.

“Darling, I don’t like sad videos. What if I start crying? We’d have a mess on our hands.” This got a good laugh out of both of them but I do make silly faces too. Cheap laughs. Still get laughs though.

With much coercing, we watched the video. She’d been watching it all day and even her Mamaw knew most of the words. Sure enough, it’s a popular song that has spoken word added to it. The little girl loses her Dad when she’s five and she visits his grave with every milestone she passes.

It was awful. I don’t like sad videos. She sat on my lap and the whole four minute song played through. What Huggy doesn’t know is my own past with my Mother… it hit way too close to home but it showed me something about my Huggy baby’s heart… she truly loves and she truly loves me. I knew she did, of course. She’s afraid she’s going to lose me somehow, someway, and then the guy that fights beside her would be gone. I tried explaining a few things about our situation and about life in general. She knows, they all know, that even when I’m gone, I won’t truly be gone. That was the last lesson my mother taught me.

It’s a fortunate thing that I have Facebook and WordPress to leave with them because it’s a no-brainer that anyone would want a loved ones words to return too.

“Don’t cry, Huggy.”

*I actually encourage crying in different situations in the case that it seems I’m against crying. That would be akin to being against sneezing. Sometimes, you just need sneeze, err… cry.

I’m rusty in the actual writing department so please forgive my first attempt back. As I wrote… Jesus… it’s been a year long year. Yep. You read that right. Hoping to get back to one a week on the rigors and joy of being the Deddy to my children. It’s truly the best part of my life and I praise God for it. Let’s rock.

OCD is a beach

Auggie will Auggie

A day off from work you say? Let’s see the end of the world then! This will be fun and not at all frustrating. Let’s rock!

Nearly every rule I put in place for our trip (all four children) was broken by Auggie and Huggy (Huggy is my youngest daughter.) However, the trip went as well as I’d hoped. I consider myself to be a positive person and find that life feels better with some hope sprinkled in. The first issue was Auggie leaving the surrounding area while I was getting the stroller out and diaper bag ready. He decided then that Huggy should be arm in arm with him. Tiny was my point person staying nearly center to both them and myself and baby. That action caused me to take way more time getting things out because of the whiplash action of constantly looking towards the rascals that were not in the group and back at what I’m doing. After corralling everyone up we made our way towards the pier. The look in Auggie’s eyes was nearly wild. The water, the beach and the people were causing some overload for Auggie. He wanted… no… he NEEDED to touch everything, talk to everyone and hang over the pier every chance there was.

The second major rule was grabbing fishing poles at the end of the pier. This rule came to be the moment I noticed fishing poles. I know Auggie and now, his eyes were wild and he had given all self control over to his obsessive thoughts. So he grabbed a fishing pole. Thankfully, no one seemed bothered. Then, after being told to stop (and stopping) he rushed to the other side and grabbed a net. A woman (who owned the net) told him he could hold it but that it wouldn’t reach the water. He decided to test that theory and nearly did before I was there—

*I need to go ahead and let everyone know that’s reading this that pushing a large stroller after an eleven year old super human through a crowd on a pier that’s less than ten feet wide is an adventure in itself and not one I suggest if you’re the only shepherd.

— Once I gathered all the babies into a seating area, we had another conversation which detailed again the dangers of separation and falling into the water. Auggie was immediately tortured by not being able to fish because, according to him, I said we’d go fishing as soon as spring came. His mind was in full obsession mode at this point.

Pinched

A person with OCD has, at times, a moment by moment struggle. That which NEEDS to happen MUST happen OR… The emotions range from anger, frustration and even extreme sadness. In their mind, for the world to continue, this obsession must be fed and not feeding it becomes a form of torture. Auggie, when he’s made to stop an action, will wince in real pain as if he’s being pinched. You could say, “that’s not normal,” and you’d be correct. That’s why it’s labeled as a disorder. When he’s locked into something as simple as finding a matching sock it can make him physically sick if he doesn’t find it. The longer the search the more intense the need to find it—

*This is why I get frustrated when people confuse quirks for an OCD. I won’t go down that path today. Just know, it bothers me.

— On the other hand, if Auggie is made to stop then there is an intense struggle to change course. I will (I’m not sure any way is right but this is what I do) hold him close and tell him he’s obsessing. Then, I will bring new thoughts in. Drawing, writing, school, friends etc. There’s no perfect solution but this technique has had success before. Sometimes… the urge is just too strong though.

Auggie and Huggy

We all went down to the water before leaving. I was carrying Grey at this point so he could see the water too. Auggie, Huggy and Tiny beat us there by a mile. The one rule? Do not get into the water. Why? They were all coughing. I’m not a scientist or a medical professional. Can that make them sick or sicker? I don’t know that but I do know it can’t hurt. What did I find when I got to them? Yep. All three had there shoes off. Tiny (the defacto leader) was only there to make sure they were safe and not going any further according to her. Smart little lady (this future lawyer always has a logical explanation. Scares me at times.) Auggie took the blame for coercing Huggy and at that point it was time to leave. Auggie believed it was because he broke the rules and in part it was but that was the smallest part. The main reasons were this…

I was alone and didn’t think far enough ahead as to how difficult it would be to keep eyes on all of them in such a vast space.

It’s a two hour drive.

I was by myself.

Should be smarter

Did I mention that I was the only adult? I know, cheap laughs are just that. I’m not saying that I went as the only adult for any recognition. I genuinely fell in over my head with each new danger. I do not suggest doing that without help BUT… man… I want them to see the world. I pray a lot. I pray for their protection and peace. I’m thankful they had a great time and I’ll do it again. Now I know exactly what to expect from them. They all enjoyed themselves though so it was a success.

“They had a great time? Enjoyed themselves? But you said Auggie thought ya’ll were leaving because of him.”

Okay, so… another aspect of OCD that you must know and this will help you tremendously is if Auggie is told to stop doing something that is triggered by his OCD and is punished for continuing that’s not super bothersome for him as long as he completed what he needed/wanted to. In other words, discipline hurts less than not fulfilling his obsession. My brother was the same way. My dad was the same way. My mother was that way as well. I didn’t allow him to believe he was the reason either. I am not a monster! Maybe a little. Auggie has the tendency to be negative so he’ll blame himself quickly (Maybe that’s another aspect of acronyms but I’m not medical person.) Huggy blamed him too I suppose. That sweet little five year old lady said, “this was supposed to be the most beautiful day!” She’s a character. That really brought laughs around as we were leaving.

So, I should be smarter. I need to plan better. Either way, they get only one childhood and going on adventures is a must. When my body gives out… hopefully Auggie will be old enough to drive and he can continue the tradition of poorly planning and not being completely prepared. Oh, the memories.

Thank you for reading and if you’re rearing children with acronyms (and no prior family experience) then I hope this finds you and helps you.

God bless and I hope you have enough.

Just Jared

*The picture posted isn’t a sad Auggie. He wanted to know how far down the water was. I wonder why? I don’t. I know why. Thank you again!

Are you down with ODD?

Tiny at open house, 3rd grade.

What is ODD? Well… I’ll start with this…

A civilised society has laws, rules and an unwritten set of moral guidelines. These laws and rules are decreed because we are humans and are allowed by God to have free will. This is MY belief.

In other words… we (law abiding citizens of Earth) sometimes buck the system or bend the rules to suit our needs or wants. I believe that most adults understand the reasons for a state of law. The alternative is anarchy (a society without laws or rules) which, quite possibly, is the first form of government most children want. Yep. If you have children then you may be nodding in agreement at this moment.

For instance, if you have two children the exact same age, size and intelligence sitting across from each other and then set down one sparkly, noisy, little toy in between them it will become a race to own the toy and then NOT share the toy and assert dominance over the other child in a show of force that this world has never seen before! Okay, not quite that fierce and not all children are this way. I’m not going to say one way is better because all things have a place. We’ve come this far as human beings by having the, well… the human nature that we have.

Child Rearing

A nation has laws. A home has a parent or guardian (law bringer sounds good too) to instruct the rules and enforce the rules. Some children will share without being taught. Most children will share after being taught. I’m not going to delve too deep into child rearing here but it is important to note that having a child with ODD can make this process even more difficult or a better word may be, different. I wrote that MOST children will share when taught that they need to because… (insert list of everything that’s good about good things for yourself and others summed up in parenthesis here. Trying to keep it short and not a blog on why sharing is a good thing.) A child with ODD may have a more difficult issue with this on a natural level.

Rules suck

Tiny doesn’t like rules but only when they apply to her. She’s not mean (most times) and she enjoys helping people especially with her baby brother. She’s usually organized, tries to take care of her things and enforces any rules in place to her siblings or peers. But then… those those pesky rules creep in where she has to follow them. She doesn’t like rules if they get in the way of her wants. She’s amazingly clever too, so a simple “no” is never enough (No is always enough because she’s a child and should follow the rules. Keep reading and I’ll explain.) If you tell her no about having a cookie then she will become a world renowned defense attorney and plead her case. She keeps evidence and witnesses too. What I’ve learned is that ODD is about “fairness” (or “freedom”) or what the child views as fair. Adults understand well that life shouldn’t be seen as something that is fair or unfair. It’s not healthy to do so. That’s a fairly difficult conversation for an eight year old when her older brother Auggie (a few years older) gets to do something and she can’t. The other issue is that she didn’t want to follow the rule to begin with but has, thank God, really worked on recognizing when she’s being defiant. That doesn’t mean she immediately begins following the rules.

Free Spirit or Law Breaker?

A few rules she really dislikes and fights to not follow are: Bedtime, brushing teeth, finishing her food, where to sit, what to wear, what to watch, sharing, chores and going to school. Oddly enough, she usually does her homework. She fights these rules and presents every reason why she shouldn’t follow them and then presents every excuse when she’s caught breaking them. Yes, she does this on purpose. She has ODD. It is her nature to be defiant. As I wrote earlier, I’m thankful she’s beginning to recognize that bucking every rule isn’t healthy.

Reaction and Moving Forward

The only thing I have figured out is what happened yesterday. I may be wrong but I attempt to be fluid in my decisions. There are moments where no is just that. Then there are moments where I change my mind or she changes my mind. We attempt to have a conversation about it and why the answer changed or did not. Most times she accepts the answer and when she doesn’t it’s noticed by those around her.

*I’m never going to be to personal on here and at some point, when they’re teenagers or young adults I don’t want to have embarrassed them unjustly.

One thing that Tiny enjoys above everything else (seemingly) is making and playing with slime. She’s very knowledgeable about the different types and how to make them stretchy or wet or good for bubbles and so on. This is her therapy. It’s her moment of meditation so I essentially put no limits on it. Is that right? Maybe. What I’m certain of is that even though a child is five, three, nine or whichever age you choose, they are still human. It so often gets overlooked that children have anxiety, depression, wants, fears or desires. They have few options of “mental escape” because, unlike adults, they can’t get into a car and drive away or eat a whole quart of icecream or say NO wherever they choose or quit school at any time or…

ODD makes their brain question anything that isn’t what they deem free. It could be viewed as anarchy or chaotic when truly, it’s freedom they desire. As a parent, it is sometimes difficult to explain why some rules or laws exist especially if your child is naturally defiant to them.

What has been helping

For a few weeks now, with Tiny and Auggie, I’ve been speaking to them about how it feels when they’re obsessed or angry or overly sad about something. I ask them what they’re feeling and does it feel good or happy. Then, I explain that they don’t have to linger in that state and can move on to something else. Now, when they get into they’re emotions and feelings it’s for shorter times. No one wants to feel that yucky weight on them especially if a couple of actions can change it. This has been helping. It’s not perfect or one hundred percent effective but it has helped.

Thank you for reading. I’m trying to get back to a weekly schedule if my mind permits. God bless and I hope you have enough.

Just Jared

Raising Girls vs. Boys (Title fight for the ADHD belt)

A hurricane and a tornado

In the photo above is a pair of kids who adore each other and despise each other. Both Auggie and Tiny are brilliant children and because of having ADHD they’ve both gone through the rigors of being tested for ADHD and as such cannot use any excuse concerning intellect. I don’t know? Nah. (That’s for another time.)

As usual, I’m only able to write from my perspective. I’m not sure I can offer “good” advice but I can explain what seems to be working for me and them and give a peak into the lives of a household with ADHD.

Meet the contenders

Auggie lives with ADHD and OCD. One can drive the other to newer and newer heights but he’s a smart kid and works really hard (most times) to recognize when he’s obsessing over something (previous entries discuss the OCD). Tiny also lives with ADHD but her main “struggle” is ODD (Oppositional defiance disorder). I haven’t written about that one as much but I do plan to because it’s a potent disorder. She is naturally defiant. Obviously, that can cause some major issues in her school life and home life.

How they coexist:

Auggie never seemed bothered by not being the “baby” after Tiny was born. In fact, he did everything he could to make her laugh. He misses her when she’s not with him and sometimes when they agree to be civil they have more giggles than the legal limit. The beautiful moments. Then, there’s the thunderstorm warning moments. Because both of them have similar issues they can feed each other into negative moments. Auggie becomes more physically aggressive while Tiny uses uses her clever mind and sharp tongue to elicit a response. It was a wonder of mine if it was the difference between the sexes until… Huggy. Huggy (youngest daughter) is very similar to Auggie in her mannerisms BUT after she was born she decided that taking anything other than giggles serious was not going to happen without a fight. And she will fight. She also prefers to use physical force to convey her aggravations. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not “destructive” or violent. Some of the things they do and the way they act reminds me of the stories my mother would tell me about my older brother and sister. At the end of the day, their children and will, at times, REALLY act like it.

How we coexist:

I’ll admit that I was softer on my oldest daughter in her toddler days. She made leaps and bounds in the maturity department and would not be outdone by her older brother. Each child has similar and different interest and I attempt to provide the things that bring them joy. It truly is a “learn as you go” with Auggie, Tiny and Huggy because they’re wired in a unique manner. Most days are good but there are trigger moments where understanding that their motor is driving them and not their heart takes longer than it should on both sides.

To be continued

For now, the belt is still up for grabs. I assume that when they get into their teenage years it will be easier to decide which group was harder to raise. So far, both the boys and girls are tied for giving their Deddy a LOT of gray hair on the ol’ goatee.

Next week

A good topic, I think, is what to expect of a child with the gift of acronyms when life isn’t going exactly as they planned. A warning ahead of time… hang on and hold fast.

God bless,

Just Jared

Auggie with ADHD (2)

A hurricane riding an iron tiger

And away we go

Our first visit to the Doctor’s office was a memorable experience especially for my wife. The vast majority of her family did not or do not have ADHD and judging by the waiting room, most of these parents and guardians hadn’t either. There was a few in there that were rocksteady and calm while most others seemed to be at their wits end.

One mother in particular was on the verge of tears as she called her son on multiple occasions to sit back down or get back to the seat or stop running or… That was Auggie and his mother as well. My wife is a tough woman and I thank God for that because having a child/ children with ADHD is a full sprint marathon. The waiting room was quite full with it being the start of new school year. Most of the children were between five and six and in Kindergarten.

    Raising a child or children with ADHD has its challenges but it really only requires one thing. You have to be tough. Oh, you can bend and you can even break but you have to be tough or you’ll be consumed by it. My wife is a tough woman and she has to be. Our children are everywhere instantly, especially Auggie. The frightening part with Auggie is that he has no thought of consequences or danger when he makes a decision. Our daughters will give some thought before jumping from the top step (they will jump but give considerations first). Auggie is on the ground grabbing his ankle while they think about what may come.

    My wife’s family hasn’t dealt with ADHD as mine has. In fact, most haven’t. It’s nearly an anomaly according to doctors at my children’s clinic. Once it got a foothold in our family it decided to stay without paying rent. For Auggie’s first visit we met with a child psychologist first and I kid you not… this man was Mr. Magorium. He even looks like Dustin Hoffman. That made the visit oddly comfortable. He spoke with a voice full of joy that connects with a child unlike anything I’ve ever seen. My wife and I were asked to leave the room so Auggie could be given the intelligence quotient test. I’m not bragging when I say this because I’m not dumb and I know what I see. He tested very high. We had no doubts about his i.q. at any point in time. We met with the doctor next, a very young woman who also had a very nice disposition. Then, we met with a teacher/ counselor who specializes in reaching children with acronyms attached. She wasn’t as bubbly and after hearing that her children also have ADHD it was no wonder (it may be that she just prefers being straight and to the point). Regardless, she has a noticeable toughness about her.

    Now, don’t take me the wrong way please. Having a child with ADHD does not take a parent’s joy away unless they let it. Auggie is precious human with a big heart and after a day with him, in my mental and physical exhaustion, I’m joyful that I am allowed to be his dad. We left the clinic that day with options. Auggie was diagnosed (after all information was taken into account) with ADHD, ODD and OCD. Our options were to medicate or not to. This particular aspect was my main cause for concern because I knew what the medicine could do and was scared I would lose who Auggie actually is. I didn’t want to lose the boy I love to accommodate someone else, anyone else, who barely knew him. I had to call my brother later that evening for advice. He’s in his forties and takes medication for his ADHD. For some adults, ADHD is like being a superhero. You will run circles around everyone else and have this energy that just seems limitless. I’ll explain further next week. Concerning TL and Bubba, two of my brothers, they are superheroes who harnessed their ADHD for side of good.

My Thoughts…

I know everyone deals with these issues differently and may have a different opinion than I do and that’s okay. We’re all trying to make it out of this life alive. This blog is written to detail my journey, our journey, with a hurricane named Auggie.

***OCD… It’s not a switch. I shouldn’t, because it’s a free country, but I take issue when someone levels a picture or straightens a stack of papers and says, “that’s my OCD kicking in.”

Nope.

If you don’t have OCD then you have a quirk. That’s it. A quirk. The O in OCD means obsessive. Obsessed. Being obsessed with leveling a picture would consume your world. Some people are obsessed with such things and it gives them great anxiety when they cannot fulfill that obsession on a mental and physical level. They can’t stop themselves most times. It’s not a switch. It’s their life. You have quirks or you have OCD. You can turn one of them off. Okay, I’m finished.

God bless,

Jared

P.s. in bold just because OR next week…

The next entry will detail the conversation with my brother and a little on the effect of ADHD on a stay-at-home mother (the way I see it as a father.)