paying attention part 5: ferrari brain

:: photo found here ::

It's kinda hard to take a kid to a doctors appointment without telling him why he's going.  Especially a bright kid.  Especially a bright kid who knows he's not sick.

That's when we had the Ferrari Brain conversation.

We had talked to the Cheese before about his struggles concentrating.  He had even sat in on the first parent/teacher conference where his inability to concentrate and focus on his school work was the main topic of conversation.  So a little bit of ground work had already been laid.

The Golfer and I weren't looking forward to having to tell the Cheese that he needed to see a doctor about his troubles paying attention.  Remember, he's our sensitive child.  He's our worrier.  He's our child who can quickly and easily make a mountain out of a pile of LEGOS.

Luckily, I found the answer we were looking for in the book, Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and Peter S. Jensen, M.D.  These two authors gave me the PERFECT script to follow.  And I did.  Almost word for word.

"Buddy, you know how we've been talking a lot lately about your struggles concentrating?  Well, it's because you have a Ferrari Brain.  Do you know what a Ferrari is?  Yeah, of course you do.  You know how cool a Ferrari is.  It is special and expensive and wins a lot of races.  And the reason they win a lot of races is because Ferraris are really, really fast.  You have a Ferrari brain that is really, really fast.  Do you know how lucky you are to have a Ferrari for a brain?  (The Cheese smiles as he shakes his head.)  You are so, so lucky to have such a special brain!
"But the trouble is you have bicycle brakes.  And your bicycle breaks aren't strong enough to help you stop your Ferrari brain.  So you have trouble slowing down when you need to and you sometimes crash even when you really don't mean to.  Does that make sense?  So what we're going to do is take you to a break specialist--a doctor down at UCLA that's going to help you with your breaks.  He just wants to visit with you.  No shots.  No tests.  Just talking.  He wants to learns about how special your Ferrari brain is.  Okay?"

The Cheese smiled,  and told me he got it.  He asked me a question or two: what's the doctor's name, when's the appointment, etc.  He then smiled some more, gave me the hug that I had requested before heading upstairs to play.  It was clear that he LOVED the idea of having such a special brain.  And in realizing this, something dawned on me.  Throughout the whole school year we had been on his back: pay attention!, why aren't you done with your homework?, are you listening?, pay attention!  We had been on him, his teacher had been on him and he had clearly been feeling and internalizing the pressure more than I had realized.

I actually watched is body language relax throughout our Ferrari conversation.  It was a relief for him to hear my words and now that we were telling him about his Ferrari Brain, well, it was the first time in a long time that he felt special.  The first time in a while that he felt good about himself.  Here we were totally stressing about having this conversation about going to the doctor, and clearly it was the conversation that our child had needed to hear.

Maybe this process is going to be easier than I thought.


Happy New Aunt's Day

I know this weekend is all about celebrating the mothers in our lives, but I was there a day that we celebrate being a new aunt?  Because on Monday, May 2nd, this angel arrived making me an aunt once again!

Sweet Emma Louise arrived bright and early Monday morning.  We celebrated with pink smoothies which the boys used to toast their new cousin.  (They also toasted the new Beta fish they bought with their Easter egg money, but that's another story.)

It's absolutely killing her Aunt and Uncle to be living so far away.  My arms are so anxious to hold her I can't stand it.

paying attention part 4: a tall glass of perspective

::  photo found here  ::

The thought ran through my mind: What if no one ever calls me back?  Then what?

I had called several different doctors, and besides one doctor calling to tell me that he wasn't accepting new patients, no one else had bothered to return my calls.  Either these doctors were extremely busy or just incredibly rude.  One or the other.  Take your pick.

So I went back to square one, calling the Mental Health Hotline.  I was starting to feel like I needed to be calling for myself as much as for my child.  Luckily, I was able to get a new list of doctors to call and wouldn't you know it, the first one I called actually called me back within a matter of minutes.


An appointment was scheduled for 2 weeks later.  At first it seemed like so far off, especially since we'd waited two weeks just to get the appointment.  But this was a good thing.  In those two weeks I got something I desperately needed.

Every day I sit in the valet lane at school, waiting in the long line of parents to pick up their children.  Most of the time I take a book or a magazine to pass my time, but this one day I just starred out the window...fretting.

That's when I saw a young man, maybe junior high age, walking toward the school.  He walked with a little bit of a limp and held his hand up against his chest like someone with Cerebral Palsy might.  He walked a few slow steps in front of a woman in a nurse's uniform, clearly his caretaker and not his mother (but really, what's the difference.)  As he stood to visit with a friendly neighbor in the valet line, he was all smiles as his head swayed back-n-forth, very Stevie Wonder-like.

I couldn't stop looking at his smile.  He had this big, beautiful smile.  It quickly dawned on me that for all of the difficulties that this young man has faced and will mostly likely face in the future, he was clearly...happy.  In fact, he looked a whole hell of a lot happier than I felt.

I thought about this young man for a moment.  I didn't know his story.  I didn't know his parents's story.  All I knew was that most likely, his story was a difficult one.  It included lot of struggles and challenges doctors and appointment and care takers and special needs.  Yet there he was, happy and...smiling.

Yes, I too had gotten some news about my child that I didn't expect or like.  News that my boy needed help.  That he was experiencing struggles and challenges.  And in the two weeks that I had to sit on the news, I had stewed and worried and wondered what the future would look like now that our direction had been slightly altered.  But looking at this young man, it dawned on me:

I was overreacting.

What was I so worried about?  Even with the new adventures that lay ahead, my child would never experience the same kinds of difficulties that my smiling Stevie Wonder friend would.  My son will probably need some behavioral therapy and mostly likely some medication, but my son will go on to lead what we would all consider to be a normal, successful life.

Perspective.  Not something you'd expect to find in the valet lane at 3:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, and yet there it was.  A nice tall, cold glass of perspective splashed right in my face.

And I couldn't help but smile.