paying attention part 7: a hard pill to swallow


The Cheese sat on the kitchen counter.  I stood in front of him, a box of Tic-Tacs in my hand.

“We’re going to practice with these,” I told him.  “These are a little smaller than the pills that you have to take, so it should be easy-peesey-lemon-squeezie!”

I am a mother, proud of my capabilities as a parent.  Teaching a 9-year-old to swallow a pill?  No problem.

15 minutes, 6 Tic-Tacs, and a whole lot of frustration later, we discovered that the Cheese could not, would not swallow his pills.  Just wasn’t going to happen.  God bless the doctor for having the foresight to give us capsules that I could open into a spoon full of applesauce or yogurt for the Cheese to swallow down.

The next morning, after breakfast and before school, I did just that.  I held the spoon up to his mouth with the instructions to swallow it down.  This is going to make your breaks work better I reminded him.  Help him slow down that Ferrari brain.

I starred at him, waiting for his head to spin on its axis.  Waiting for him to projectile vomit.  Waiting for him to whimper or scream or both.  Instead, he hopped off of the counter and ran upstairs to play with LEGOS even though he was supposed to be brushing his teeth.

The decision to medicate our child wasn’t an easy one.  We hadn’t entered into it lightly.  But we decided that we needed to take a step forward in helping and for us this seemed like the best first choice.

You know what clinched the decision for me?  I read in something that used the comparison between medication for ADHD and glasses.  If your child needed glasses to see better, you wouldn’t hesitate to get them for him.  Medication for ADHD is like getting your child glasses: they help him to focus better. Well, we had to get glasses for the Cheese when he was 5 and obviously we didn’t hesitate.  So why would we hesitate now?

Of course, there were side effects.  Right away we saw his appetite decrease.  During the day he wasn’t eating at all.  I told the Golfer that if you noticed some of the pills missing not to be surprised.  They sounded just like what my diet needed.  (I’m kidding of course.  Sort of…)

We also saw that he had trouble falling asleep.  The medication was a stimulant after all, so his sleeplessness wasn’t a surprise.  Both of these were common side effects and would hopefully dissipate over time.

The good news was that the teacher saw the benefits right away.  Suddenly he was getting all of his work done in class and wasn’t bring home any homework.  He passed three of his multiplication times test in a week.  She said that he was sitting in his seat and (here are the words that we really wanted to hear) he was paying attention.

But this was only the first week of his being on medication, and as great as some of this seemed, we would soon discover that this wasn’t the magic pill that we had been hoping for.

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