Posted by Mihal Levy
The month of September is winding down. You know what that means? You guessed it: the end of National ADHD Awareness month. (Ok, so maybe you didn’t guess it. I probably wouldn’t have either.) It’s the end of being aware. So, we move into October, no longer aware of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
ADHD is overrated anyway, isn’t it? Or is it just me? (And this comes from an ex-psychotherapist, yes me…can you believe it?) Seriously, even children are using the excuse that they have ADHD to get out of responsibility. Can you blame them? They couldn’t concentrate on their homework, class assignment or finish their peas because of it. Here’s what I think: we all have ADHD, especially when we’re children, bored in school or simply bored altogether in a situation that does not stimulate us. Even a child diagnosed with ADHD is able to sit still when they are, in fact, interested in something.
In my past life of teaching special education and practicing as a child therapist (ok, not my past life, but many moons ago), I have seen far too many children “drugged” to make their teachers’ jobs easier. Why is it that the teacher is usually the one to suggest the diagnosis? (I would request a copy of her license before she attempts at diagnosing.) Far too many teachers and therapists alike convince parents that there is something wrong with their child. Are we trying to create cookie cutter children? Should all children sit still? Maybe it is the teacher that is not providing enough stimulation for the child.
In my experience, children with “ADHD” (and I put it in quotes, because I believe it has become an all-encompassing label) are children who are extremely intelligent and creative. Are those bad things? What are we teaching our children - if you can’t sit still and pay attention, swallow your Ritalin? Later in life, Valium? Prozac? You get the point.
Why and how have we become a nation where we don’t respect diversity or appreciate creativity? We say we do.
I have included a short list of “symptoms” of ADHD that I consider childhood characteristics, and frankly, often just human characteristics. (Disclaimer - this is not intended to diagnose/undiagnosed your child, just making a general statement, that far too often this diagnosis has gotten out of hand and a quick fix to a problem that is non-existent.) This list was taken from the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov).
Children with ADHD may:
-Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another. (So when kids go out to the playground and forget their jackets and run from jungle gym to swings to sandbox…ADHD? And if they continuously play on the merry go round only, a different diagnosis would be in order; you can’t win.)
-Have difficulty focusing on one thing. (Because children should always focus on one thing.)
-Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless they are doing something enjoyable. (I’m sorry. Wouldn’t anyone get bored doing a task they don’t find enjoyable?)
-Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities. (Because 1st and 2nd graders are so detail-oriented…have you ever seen a six year old lose a homework assignment or pencil? Only if they had ADHD?)
-Not seem to listen when spoken to. (I just picture any little kid with hands over their ears…”I can’t hear you!”)
-Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others. (Others? Who are these others? Because every child processes information the same way? Not so much…)
-Fidget and squirm in their seats. (Every restaurant I have been to that is kid-friendly must be filled with ADHD children, because they are all fidgety and squirming in their seats. How long can you “fine dine” with children? So they colored their placemats with the restaurant-supplied four-color crayon box. They ate. They had their special dessert. They mixed all the condiments in their glass of water. They played their handheld video games. Eventually, it is time to go home. With Ritalin, you may have been able to milk another fifteen to twenty minutes, though.)
-Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, and story time. (I think this was created by angry and tired schoolteachers.)
These are just a few symptoms. Why do we always need to define everything? Does everything have to fit neatly into little boxes? Does stumping a child’s creativity or self-confidence matter? Can we stop diagnosing and start appreciating differences? Maybe then, there would be a lot more people doing what they truly love, instead of what they “should” be doing.
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September 25, 2009 | 8:42 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
Letting go is so much easier when you are lying on a butcher paper covered table, and stuck with needles. Why is that? I can let go at my Acupuncturist’s office, but in the real world, things weigh heavy on my heart. Maybe I should take the needles to go? I even asked. She said it is illegal, but the good news is…it is completely legal in Japan. Why are things that make us feel good illegal here? Just a thought. Maybe a move to Japan is in order.
As I lay on the table with needles all over me (thank God there are no ceiling mirrors so i could see just how great I looked), I thought about letting go, which probably only makes it all the more difficult to actually let go.
I let go of anger or grudges I have held towards people that have hurt me, my husband and my son this past year. I let go of trying to figure out why people hurt one another in general. And when I did (and just stopped thinking, in general), all was calm. Well, the scented eye mask and tranquil music probably helped, not to mention the fifty or so needles in my arms, legs and who knows where else, as well.
I was hoping I could take my new attitude out the door sans needles. I made it to the car and still felt great. So far, all was not lost. I realized that letting go of my perceptions and expectations of others or how I think things should really be (my way, of course), made a difference in how I felt.
It doesn’t change the way things really are, just how I perceive them. Lesson Learned: Letting go doesn’t come without a price. And a hefty price left at the Acupuncturist’s. But, well worth it.
September 23, 2009 | 2:33 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
I’ve forgotten how to talk on the phone. Is that bad? Look, I get the basics. It rings, I answer. But how do you convey emotion? There are no emoticons, no lol’s.
How do you know when the other person is thinking, or if the awkward silence is due to the fact you have just said something to upset him/her. There is no indicator to let you know. Text messages and emails are so much easier. Getting right to the point. No beating around the bush. No small talk.
Here’s the start of pretty much every phone call.
“Hi, Mihal, it’s me.”
“Oh, hi (fill in name here).” Although you already knew who it was from caller ID, you still pull the surprised tone.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?” How do you answer this one? “No, I was just sitting here in anticipation, waiting for the phone to ring, clearing up my schedule completely, in case anyone happened to call.”
You get my point, there is too much wasted time. And when you’re a mom, every free moment equals longer mom naps. The longer the conversation, the shorter my nap. With a text message, it’s simple and straight to the point. “I’m running late.” “Be there in five minutes.” “Call me.” “I’m going to bed.” “Your test results came in positive.” There’s no need for small talk…ever, in my opinion.
During the day, I am so busy running around, even in my own place (either I’m overdoing myself or I really need to get on ADHD meds). I hardly have the time to just “chat.” And I mean this respectfully to anyone who calls me (or used to call me, until they read this). Most of my conversations are done while driving (yes, on a headset or speakerphone) from place to place, with my son in the back seat asking me to turn up his music (and he’s only three, so I’m sure this will get worse).
Being that my time is limited, I don’t have time for small talk. How am I, what am I up to, how’s my day been so far? Let’s just fast forward to the reason you called…am I late on my phone bill? Do you need advice? Just keep the questions short and quick and I’m good. That is why email works so much better for me. I can keep in touch with all my friends at 2:00 a.m.
Even important messages aren’t phoned in anymore like, “Happy birthday,” or “Grandma just died.” What are phones good for anyway? I’m sure we could reach emergency service quicker by sending an email, rather than dialing 911 and waiting on hold.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing as personal as actually hearing someone’s voice, but what’s more important, being personal or productive? Exactly!
And with emails, you never have to be interrupted by “the other line.” I never really understood call waiting. You are on the phone, but interrupt the conversation to answer another one, in case it is more important? Waiting for a better one to come along? If you were enjoying the conversation you were already having, would you be so quick to get “the other” call?
Emails and texts just make it that much easier, and no one has to know if you were interrupted during their email or even in the bathroom while typing it.
September 22, 2009 | 4:41 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
My son loves pancakes. Who doesn’t? Anything with “cake” in the name has to be good, right? But making them, that’s another story. Whether you are making one or fifty, you still need a bowl, a measuring cup, a spoon or whisk, a ladle, a frying pan and a million paper towels to wipe off the entire counter and stove top from the batter you have splashed in an attempt at flipping the damn things. (Ok, maybe it’s just me.)
So you can imagine how excited I am when I discover new “instant” pancake mixes. (I don’t get out much, can you tell?) Instant is not always so instant, of course. The instant mixes usually require adding eggs, oil and water. How is that saving me time, when I have to hunt down the extra ingredients and make sure my fridge is always stocked with eggs? (Ok, got the water part down, but running to the market for eggs if you’re out, defeats the whole “instant” notion.)
So, leave it to Israel to come up with an “add water” version. Wow, like those little plastic pegs you drop into water and miraculously turn into dinosaurs or giraffes or pancakes? Well, not quite that simple, but simple enough.
It’s Kahan’s Instant Pancake Mix. You just add water and stir, but still have to ladle the right amount of mix, of course, fry and flip. Now, I know that I can have pancakes ready any time. Tap water is always on hand and best for us…or so we are told. No plastic bottles to recycle. See, so you are even helping the environment.
Just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited about pancake mix, I happened to stumble upon an even greater invention (now keeping Kahan’s on hand for pancake emergencies). I discovered Organic Batter Blaster (OU Pareve) at Whole Foods. I know what you’re thinking, the name doesn’t make it sound so appealing, but it makes for a catchy jingle: “Make better breakfast faster…Batter Blaster.” (I didn’t make that up…see for yourself @ batterblaster.com and make sure the sound is turned up on your computer when the site loads.)
What’s so great about this one, you ask (besides the jingle)? I’ll tell you. There is no need for any additional ingredient or dishes, just a frying pan (flipping still required, though). Batter Blaster is convenient in a whipped cream-like spray, where you simply squeeze out the mix onto a greased frying pan. (Sounds appetizing?) Figuring out the right amount or shape to squeeze out is a little tricky, though, so the first or second, third or fifteenth pancake won’t be perfect, but walla…eventually you’ll get the hang of it, and create instant spray pancakes. (Just don’t confuse the whip cream with the pancake mix or things could get messy as you top off your ready cakes)
Now, my son enjoys pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner…poor guy, until they create instant mac and cheese in a spray can, of course. I will keep you posted when I hear of anything.
September 21, 2009 | 3:31 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
It’s been a while. Sorry we’ve lost touch. I hope you remember me; we haven’t spoken since the days of my Holly Hobbie diary and its important content - questions about boys and acne care products. I figured the Internet was the best way to reach you nowadays (and I have since lost the key to my diary). I just have a few questions I was hoping you could help me with. I’m sure you must be busy this time of year, with American Idol decisions for next season, world peace and the whole inscribing in the book of life thing these next few days. So, I’ll be quick…or try to be anyway.
1. I don’t find enjoyment in activities that I used to or frankly never really enjoyed: laundry, dishes and dusting, to name a few. What am I doing wrong? I’ve been waiting for things to get better for a few years now. Do I just find new hobbies and give up on these? But, how do other women do it and enjoy it? You know, the women on television. Especially the laundry, they seem happy doing it. I even tried switching fabric softeners, thinking that was the issue, but there was no spring in my step and no snuggly bear jumping out my dryer. Is it me? I want to be like those women in crisp white outfits, whose husbands can’t wait to come home to brighter whites. Sure, my husband has never said anything out loud. But I know the truth. I could really use a pointer or two here, please help.
2. Are play dates really necessary? My son seems perfectly happy watching DVDs all day while I write. He never complains. When we finally head out to the park, we usually meet another child with his mom, or at least I think it is his mom, later discovering it’s the nanny, when mom finally comes to pick him and the nanny up after her manicure appointment. The freshly mani-pedied mom asks me when my employer will be there to pick me up, or if I need a ride home. Then we trade phone numbers so we can set up the next play date. I get both mom’s and nanny’s cell phone numbers. So, who do I call? It just gets way too complicated.
3. And lastly, can you explain “Me time?” What is that? And is this something that people actually get? How do I get it and where? Is it available on the Internet? I hear people saying that I should have more me time, but can’t seem to find it.
That’s it, for now. Enough about me, how are you? I’m looking forward to your response. Feel free to reach me via email, snail mail or burning bush, however you handle things these days.
September 19, 2009 | 2:06 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
It’s almost New Year’s Eve. Not the one where you get inebriated, watch a ball drop, and call it a night after singing Auld Lang Syne. It’s Rosh Hashanah, where even after food, family and guilt, the night is far from over as the guilt lingers.
Guilty feelings over things you would’ve, could’ve or should’ve done differently over the past year. Now, it is time to make amends with those that we have hurt, offended or plain right annoyed. Time to forgive and forget. But, is it really that simple? Should we just ask for forgiveness and forgive for forgiveness’ sake? (Are you following?)
What about the old adage that says: “Once something is broken, you can fix it, but it will never be the same again.” Isn’t it just easier to get a new one, whatever it is? I’m just saying…
Happy New Year.
September 17, 2009 | 5:20 am
Posted by Mihal Levy
Leashes for children. How convenient, right? Moms are too busy shopping at the mall or chatting on their cell phones to worry about where their child is at all times, so why not just put a leash on him? It just makes sense, because when moms are in the middle of that important phone call about the latest nail colors, they shouldn’t be interrupted. They can simply tug on the leash and pull their child back towards them. Even a quick run into Coffee Bean to score that chai latte is possible. Simply tie your child to a table outside. (Don’t forget to leave a bowl of water if it’s hot).
Absurd, right? Just because something is convenient, that doesn’t make it justified. Communication? Discipline? Hand-holding? Keeping an eye on your child the whole time? Are all these things overrated?
I think we’ve crossed the line between dogs and children. We now have dog parks where owners can unleash their dogs. Some might argue that we have parks where children are unleashed as well, so I’ll give them that much. Then there’s the doggy stroller dilemma. Does one carry their teacup Chihuahua in a sequined duffel bag or push them in a doggy stroller? And why is this always at the mall? Doesn’t putting a dog in a stroller emasculate them, for one? Could you see a rottweiler or pit bull in a doggy stroller? And what is the purpose anyway? They need to nap? They haven’t learned to walk yet? Aren’t these the reasons strollers were invented in the first place…for babies, the human kind? But I’m getting off topic a little here…back to leashes for kids.
I’m not a big fan of leashes, if you couldn’t tell. And the fact that the leash, a.k.a. harness, is attached to Elmo or a teddy bear on the child’s back doesn’t make it any more acceptable. What next, a muzzle?
I was at the mall the other day, where leashes seem to be the norm, and noticed a mom on her cell phone holding a leash attached to what appeared to be a child. (I couldn’t really tell, because this leash extended so far out, it was hard to see whom it was attached to.) Mom was conveniently shatting (shopping and chatting) and tugging at the leash every so often until it would hurl the toddler back to her. Like a yo-yo. At this point I could tell it was a child, when she was flung back to her mother. I decided to wait for mom to finish the call and asked her why she decided to leash her child. Her first response was, “My friends suggested it.” Oh, O.K., so that explains a lot. I pushed further. “I just don’t have time to keep track of her. And this way she won’t run away.” So, the message she is giving her daughter is: You will not run away from me, because you can’t. If this is her philosophy, I’d hate to see the type of leash she has on her husband.
September 16, 2009 | 12:59 pm
Posted by Mihal Levy
On a recent trip to the 99 Cent Only Store, I got more than my share of Ziploc bags and paper goods for under $10. As I was checking out, an elderly gentleman behind me smiled at my son (who is 3) and I. While glancing at my son he said, “They teach us more than we can ever teach them.”
I nodded, grabbed my cheap paper goods and headed out to my car. On my way, I began thinking about what he said, and of all the things I have learned from my son.
This is what I came up with as I made my way to the car (it was a long walk):
1) We are born with our personalities, yet spend a lifetime trying to reinvent ourselves with what is deemed appropriate at the time.
2) We are forced to say “I’m sorry,” even when we are not.
3) We have to share, even when we don’t want to.
4) We learn to lie to please others. “Let’s call Auntie X to tell her how much you love that sweater she knitted for you. Of course it is a much better gift than that train set you wanted. Trains can’t keep you warm.”
5) We learn that we must cover up our feelings. “Please don’t yell at the waiter, because he spilled ice cold apple juice on you, Sweety. It was an accident.”
6) We learn that being polite often means compromising ourselves. (No explanation needed.)
7) We NEVER get hurt. “I know you fell down, but you’re O.K.! Here hold this compress over your bruised ego…I mean knee.”
8) We bend the truth to protect our families. “Of course your cousin loves you even though she doesn’t send you birthday presents or Hanukkah presents or call or visit or…”
9) First we have to get the icky things done, before we can play. Really? “Put away the toys and then you can go out and play.”
10) Authority always wins. “Because mommy and daddy said so.” and lastly…
11) Doing things on your own, makes you big.
My son challenges me everyday to be the best person I can be. As cliched as it sounds, it is an extremely difficult task to take on. I can only trust that what I teach him doesn’t take away from who he is. I hope that I am on the right track. (From the looks of my list…maybe not.) If I am wrong, (and what parent is, really?), I can only hope that when he is an adult and in therapy to discuss me, his therapist goes easy on me. And to my son; I apologize in advance.