Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2: Newts, My Son, ADHD Medication

Once I camped "alone" at Douthat State Park in the Allegheny Mountains near here, and spent the greater part of one afternoon watching children and newts.  There were many times more red-spotted newts at the edge of the lake than there were children; the supply exceeded even that very heavy demand.  One child was collecting them in a Thermos mug to take home to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to feed an ailing cayman.  Other children ran to their mothers with squirming fistfuls.  One boy was mistreating the newts spectacularly:  he squeezed them by their tails and threw them at a shoreline stone, one by one.  I tried to reason with him, but nothing worked.  Finally he asked me, "Is this one a male?" and in a fit of inspiration I said, "No, it's a baby."  He cried, "Oh, isn't he cute!" and cradled the newt carefully back into the water.

Dillard is watching a little boy being, well, a little boy.  Not really caring about the consequences of his actions, the child tosses them at rocks, probably killing a majority of them.  There's little in the way of respect for the natural world in the little boy.  I'm sure he's the kind of kid who would strip trees bare of bark and uproot fields of trillium for fun.  Yet, Dillard is able to stop this future oil company CEO in his tracks by making him see the newt differently.  By making him recognize the newt as more than just a disposable resource.  The newt is a baby.

I have a seven-year-old son with ADHD.  I have seen the kind of havoc he can wreak on innocent plants and trees and shrubs.  Unmedicated, my son would punch classmates in the stomach and tear branches off playground saplings.  He had a difficult kindergarten year, spending a lot of time in the principal's office.  He even got sent to detention a couple of times with much older children (a decision I did not agree with or support). 

Last year, in first grade, my son was placed on an ADHD medication, and it made a huge difference in his life.  He was able to sit in class and focus.  He had a teacher who truly loved him, and he started getting recognition for how smart he is at math and science and, in particular, reading comprehension.  He excelled. 

This year has been really good for him, as well.  His second grade teacher loves him (she was my daughter's kindergarten teacher).  She calls my son her "IT guy" because he is able to help her with problems on the classroom computer.  Recently, however, we've all noticed that my son's attention has been lagging.  He's gotten into trouble on the playground.  At home, he can't seem to listen, has started throwing the kind of out-of-control temper tantrums he used to exhibit before he started taking his medication.

My son's pediatrician has increased the dosage on his ADHD drug.  Just started the new dosage this past Tuesday, so it's a little too soon to say whether it's helping or not.  I'm praying it does, because my son is a really good kid.  My parish priest once commented to me that my son "has a really bright spirit of God about him."  I believe that.

So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, saying a few extra Hail Mary's for my son right now.  He knows that the world is a gift, a blessing.  And he knows that he has to take care of that gift.

Saint Marty is trying to take care of his baby newt right now.

Happy April Fool's Day--just kidding!  It's April 2nd!

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