The past couple of weeks have been very difficult for our youngest son Dominyk. (And when things are difficult for him things are difficult for his classroom, his teacher, his paraprofessional, his siblings, and those who participate in church groups with him). We have had the double-whammy of dealing with the changes spring brings and with a medication change. When I was told years ago that spring often triggers children with mental health challenges, I mentally wrote it off as little more than folklore, but having witnessed those natural, biorhythmic changes in several of our children over the past few years, I am now a believer. A decade ago (with only two young children in our home at the time, still our two youngest, although they are now 11 and 12) I also had the luxury of poo-pooing the usage of prescription medications in children. I joined the throng of those who criticized lazy parents and over-eager prescribing physicians. But, I must confess, I am now a believer (albeit a reluctant one) in utilizing medication as necessary to help improve the lives of children and their families. Let me be clear ... I think medication is not a first resort, and not a solitary approach, to providing care for challenging children. I understand, however, its necessity and its helpfulness in the big picture of things.
So, the past few days have been difficult. Emails from the schools, reports from the PCAs, our own observations have confirmed that things are awry with Dominyk's medication regimen. He will see the psychiatrist again early next week, so we are looking for some alteration that will provide some level of control for him and some level of comfort for the rest of us. Until then we just try to endure and be patient.
Today is Dominyk's eleventh birthday. Last night he discovered that his birthday celebration were going to be different than he had been anticipating. And for Dominyk those kind of changes are catastrophic. He moaned and wailed and cried for a long time before falling asleep last night, a tired conglomeration of disappointments.
This morning I woke him up early with a "happy birthday" greeting and offered him the opportunity for breakfast out if he would get ready without complaint. Within minutes he was up, in the shower, and cheerfully readying himself for the day. It was enjoyable witnessing his preparation and his contented demeanor, a stark contrast to the gnashing of teeth eight hours previous.
Stepping out into the crisp stillness of a southern Minnesota morning, I noticed the sun cresting the trees and anticipated the warmth of a lovely day. As I called for our ever-errant dog to come back into the house, Dominyk sat in the car, awaiting our departure. Dropping his brother Tony off at his school bus stop a couple of blocks later, it was just the two of us. I rattled on, like only parents can do, about the past eleven years and how we had known him for all but nine months of those eleven years. We talked about the fuzzy pink snowsuit he wore the first January day he entered our lives ten years ago. And then, to add some reality to our verbal patter, I said, "Yep, eleven years ago today your birth mom was pushing you out."
In a split-second he turned to me from his outside-oriented visage and with a smile on his face and a mischievous glint in his eyes, he said, "Yeah. Uhhhhhhhh." [It's difficult to put into words in this medium the sounds of an eleven-year-old boy attemting to replicate his perception of the sound of childbirth].
By the time we arrived at Burger King (his choice for breakfast, not mine) to eat our sausage, egg and cheese croissants, I was grateful for what was turning out to be a very pleasant morning.