I am standing in the middle of the kitchen trying to explain to four-year-old Brandan why he can't have any Wheat Thins. He is either not listening or doesn't care. Or more likely, just doesn't understand. Neither do I, really. But I am determined to try. "They're healthy," he reasons, clutching the box to his chest. I try again to explain. "But they are not on your elimination diet and that means they are not good for you."
I have just spent the last three weeks reading anything and everything that has to do with highly active children and food. Most of the information seems to point to grains as the offending source, so I have excluded all wheat products from Brandan's diet in an attempt to "eliminate" his hyper behavior.
So far it is not working..
Now that hyperactivity is an official diagnosis, there is no shortage of holistic, psychological, and medical antidotes for the disorder. In a mad dash to fix Brandan, I have tried every single one. However, with the exception of Ritalin, none of them have had a noticeable effect. And while Ritalin does seem to have the desired outcome of slowing down my son, it has also some disturbing side effects. It not only subdues him physically, it subdues him emotionally and spiritually..
I know that the little yellow pill is not the answer. Yet, without it, I can't control Brandan. This thought immediately makes me feel guilty and panic-stricken. What kind of mother needs a pill to control a four-year-old? Although I had never thought about whether or not I could control Brandan until the psychologist had brought it up in our last session, having control has now become a major point of contention for me.
"It is essential that you gain control of him now, before he becomes defiant," the psychologist had warned at our last meeting. He had a name, another label for the anarchy-oppositional defiant disorder; ODD for short. He claimed that teenage boys, especially those with ADHD, are at high risk, and that if I didn't want Brandan to become defiant later on, I had better learn to control him now.
"Tell Brandan to pick up his toys and come here," the doctor had instructed. I immediately dispatched the command to Brandan, who was engrossed in the corner of the room with two toy trucks and a bucket full of plastic green army men. As predicted, he either ignored me or didn't hear me. I pretended that it was the latter, cleared my throat, and restated the order a little louder. He looked up and smiled sweetly, but continued to play.
The doctor didn't look a bit surprised at Brandan's lack of compliance. In fact, he had a sort of self-righteous smirk on his face. As I started to repeat the request a third time, he held up his hand for me to stop, and with the heavy sigh of a man who seemed almost bored with the responsibility of being the designated taskmaster, said, "Go and get him, Mrs. Boylan." I did as I was told, dragging a very unhappy Brandan back to the couch by his heels.