The story above was doing the rounds on social media last week.
I get that it was meant to be funny and to most people it would have been. I did smile at the end. Bitterly.
I read through the first part of the letter and a shiver ran through my body. That part of the letter could have come from Kurt – I’m almost expecting a letter like that any day now. What I wanted to be able to do when I reached the end of the letter was to laugh at it like everyone else, and think smugly ‘thank God, that’s not us.’ But I couldn’t.
That humorous little scenario the son depicted to his father embodied the fear we live with daily with Kurt at the moment.
Each day our son crosses another line to challenge our moral fibre and the strength of our family unit; each day we question how best to parent him; each day I say my prayers even though I’m an atheist.
What we have come to terms with, is that these bad spells are probably not just part of a teenage ‘phase’, like we had been kidding ourselves hoping they were. This is it – this is the path with Kurt and his ADHD, and it’s probably not going to get much better.
There are days now when I almost wish my son wouldn’t come home. Isn’t that a terrible thing to admit to? Then the anger and anxiety abate and I calm down just enough to remember how much I would miss him – because his charisma and enthusiasm for life is contagious, for better or for worse, and because he is my son and I love him.
Sometimes I do question if there is indeed some truth in the link between ADHD kids and attachment disorder.
Kurt is seventeen now, and school (as we suspected it would) has become overwhelming for him. As a friend of mine described it at the weekend – my poor son is drowning. With the difficulties of ADHD (that include poor executive skills leading to poor organization, time management and impulsivity), added to pressure from school and pressure at home, I can see that my son is feeling buried and becoming defeated.
His sunny disposition has become eclipsed.
My weeks are now spent fielding calls and texts from his school about truancy and late assignments, and my evenings are spent trying to make him see sense.
The question is: how much pressure is too much pressure to put on him? Today he disappeared for a couple of hours after a bad week and an argument about homework and I assumed the worst. We have reached the point where he no longer communicates with us, preferring to bury his head in the sand or self-medicate for relief. When I read terrifying articles about teenagers on Ice or other similar drugs, it makes me paranoid.
It goes without saying that we would support him if he decided to leave school – we’ve known for a long time that school does not suit Kurt. But he still doesn’t have the maturity or the tools to handle a job, so as much as school might be anathema to him, the thought of a job terrifies him almost as much.
It’s the thought of him leaving school with no plan that terrifies me the most. I’m not concerned about him leaving without qualifications – I know lots of successful people who have left school without them – but I am concerned about where a lack of ambition and focus may lead him.
The self-medication he uses to cope with feeling over-whelmed is our biggest enemy. We were told that his ADHD drugs would reduce the risk of him self-medicating but Kurt has told me that it stops the craziness in his head, and so he has been sucked into their short-term lifeline.
Whatever we say, however many articles I leave surreptitiously on his bed for him about the dangers of drugs, everything seems to fall on deaf ears.
He is a teenager and he is a teenager with ADHD.
Meanwhile his behavior at home and his attitude towards us threatens to tear us apart. This is not like dealing with a sick child who responds to and needs love. He is oppositional, angry and defiant and the days of being able to send him to his room have long gone.
We aren’t the first parents to have a difficult teenager, but when you’re in this position and trying to make sense of it all, unable to see light at the end of the tunnel and fearful for your child’s life, it can become dangerously obsessional. Your parental instincts tell you to do whatever it takes to keep your child safe; yet this child, who was made out of love and came out of my own body, rejects us and is tearing the rest of our world apart, seemingly without a care in the world.
‘There are worse things in life,’ but on a bad day it sure doesn’t feel that way.