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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)

TITLE: Breakfast at Daniel's
By Kristen Hester


I sipped coffee while I sat on my sofa with my Bible on my lap. I was having a peaceful and prayerful time with the Lord until my tranquility was abruptly interrupted by my six-year-old son, Daniel. He did a running kamikaze diving entrance into the room and knocked a stack of Pottery Barn catalogs and my only living plant off the coffee table. He then began spinning in circles and making helicopter noises. The chaos of my day had begun.

“Brrrrrrwwwwhhhh,” Daniel said loudly. His sister shuffled sleepily into the room dragging her entire bedspread behind her. She climbed into the recliner and curled into a ball. Daniel, “the helicopter”, continued spinning, inching closer with each turn until his hands skimmed the top of her head.

“Stop touching me!” she whined.

“Breakfast time,” I said, realizing my peaceful plan for the morning was only a memory, much like my size 8 figure after 2 pregnancies. I put my hands on Daniel’s shoulders and directed him to the kitchen, but he dramatically collapsed to the floor at my touch. He kicked his legs and spun in circles on the tile. My daughter obediently made her way to the table, pulling her comforter through the spilled plant dirt.

I had briefly fantasized about serving eggs, sausage, cinnamon toast and fresh fruit for breakfast but plopped cold Pop-tarts onto paper plates instead. My children managed to consume a few calories despite spilled milk, toppled chairs, and lots of yelling. The kids did some yelling, also.

Afterwards, my daughter got dressed and I got my daily workout wrestling Daniel into his clothes. I was exhausted by the time I dropped him off at school. I felt sorry for the teacher who had to deal with him, but I was thankful for my break.

In desperation I finally decided to discuss Daniel’s behavior with our pediatrician, who was also a family friend. While we waited for our appointment Daniel knocked over another child’s block tower and annoyed everyone by continually yelling “yee haw” as he energetically swayed back and forth on a rocking horse. In the examining room he built a Lego tower and then violently knocked it down causing pieces to fly across the room.

Dr. Carter entered the room and shook my hand. “Hello.” He turned to Daniel and extended his hand, “Hey, big man.” Daniel jumped up and gave Dr. Carter “five” by slapping his hand with all his strength. I’m sure it hurt, but Dr. Carter was gracious. “Wow, you’ve gotten strong.” He turned to me as he glanced down at the chart. “What can I do for you today?”

Out of Daniel’s hearing I explained my frustrations. “He’s already repeated Kindergarten and he’s still struggling. He’s always in trouble at school and our home is in constant chaos.”

Dr. Carter didn’t hesitate. “Daniel has the classic symptoms of ADHD.” I wondered how long Dr. Carter had wanted me to bring this up.

I was skeptical of ADHD and hesitant to accept the diagnosis. “Do you really think ADHD is real? Isn’t it just a cop out for lazy or bad parents?”

“It’s real and I think Daniel could benefit from medicine.”

The thought of giving my son medicine made me cringe, but truthfully I was desperate for peace and harmony in our family. Without it, I might soon be seeking a Prozac prescription for myself. I was ashamed of these feelings and not sure what to do. I listened as Dr. Carter explained the options and referred me to a specialist.

After hours of testing by a pediatric neurologist the official diagnosis was Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type. I was going to swallow my pride and my son was going to swallow a pill.

Weeks after the diagnosis I stood in my kitchen and thought about how much life had changed. I was looking at Daniel’s “A” paper proudly displayed on the refrigerator when he walked into the room, fully dressed and ready for school. He carried an intricate Lego structure in his hands.

“Look what I built.”

“Very nice.” I hugged Daniel and he gently returned my hug.

When we sat down for breakfast, Daniel asked if he could say the blessing. “Thank you for my family and for this food. And, God, thank you that I can learn at school like everyone else and I don’t get in trouble much anymore.”

“Amen,” we all said with feeling and then enjoyed a very pleasant and calm breakfast.

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This article has been read 1137 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 09/20/07
I am glad someone tackled this subject — and so well at that. Good work.
Dee Yoder 09/21/07
I'm thinking about how difficult it is, as a parent, to admit there might be something out of the ordinary going on with your child. I've been there myself. But, when the facts are faced, and problems can be addressed, the ensuing relief is so great. Your story is entertaining, as well as informative. You give insight into the pain, questions, and relief when a family faces something like this.
Dianne Janak09/21/07
well done.. I bet this is a true story? If so, you could encourage lots of moms and dads on this issue. IT is great to hear that meds can work, and even the child notices and appreciates it... thanks for tackling this and sharing...Dianne
Joanne Sher 09/21/07
This touched me in a way you can not imagine. I have been there, though with a different "diagnosis." Great descriptions, especially in the beginning. I was right there in the middle of your little disaster area.
Marita Vandertogt09/22/07
This is extremely well written.... you move into Daniel's condition in a way that creates sympathy with the reader for both parent and child. Very well done!
Sharlyn Guthrie09/22/07
I commend you for sharing this story. The key sentence, as I see it, is, "I was going to swallow my pride and my son was going to swallow a pill." I've been there, done that, and yet I've also met many parents dead set against either. Great writing, and you delivered the message without preaching or passing judgement.
Laurie Walker09/23/07
What I especially loved is the chaotic feeling in the beginning, where your MC is experiencing chaos, then the turn when everything calms down, even your manner of writing. Masterfully done. The title is clever too.

I recently talked with a mother who said there's new meds out for ADHD which don't have the debilitating effects Ridilin (sp?) has. There's definite hope in your story, and it's a view you rarely hear.
Joy Faire Stewart09/24/07
I enjoy your writing style. It's clear, detailed and puts your reader into the situation.
Loren T. Lowery09/24/07
Our daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in Jr. High. She was always a "ball of energy" and it was exhausting trying to keep up with her at times. The meds and understanding the condition helped all of us. Today, some 10 years later, she is sympton free and happlily married.
Jan Ackerson 09/24/07
Well done, and an engaging read.
Janice Cartwright09/24/07
I had to read this to see what the "other" Daniel was like. (my title this time has a Daniel in it also.)

Anyway I'm so glad I did. I liked the good-natured mother (yourself, I feel sure) who is able to keep her sense of humor in spite of jangled nerves. You made what could have been simply a "medical" read into a delightful story that was also informative.
Frank Creed09/26/07
This is why they say "write what you know". So many people excuse bad behavior with yhr ADHD label that it's just become unreal. Drugging one's kids for an easy fix is the easy road.

Thanks for the bucket of cold water. Reality check.

Your house sounds too calm these days. Please tell Daniel that Joanne said there's a spider on the back of his shirt.

*duck into cubicle*
Sheri Gordon09/26/07
Excellent writing, as usual. :) I love the way you take very serious issues, and present them with humor. I believe humor is a huge gift from God -- meant to help us get through the very trying times. Great job with the topic.
Sherrie Jackson09/26/07
Great job on this story. I had a student whose parents refused to accept a diagnosis of ADHD, so you can imagine how difficult every day was not only for me but for this student's peers. All we can do is pray!
Catrina Bradley 09/26/07
Love it! I was drawn in and you kept my attention til the end. This mother (you?) must have had much grace from God to handle Daniel and stay sane. What a great lesson on facing facts and applying truth, even when we don't really want to. I love Daniel's blessing at the end. Great job, once again!!
Pam Carlson-Hetland09/26/07
Excellent as usual. I've been here--done this, too, as so many others have noted. Beautifully written. It really speaks to all readers- those who have experienced this chaos first hand, and those who look upon the situations judgementally. So very well done!
Jenny Fitch09/26/07
This was excellent! It definitely hit home for me. My son also has a "diagnosis" and is on medication. It is a very hard decision to make. You handled this topic beautifully.

The only sentence that "stuck out" for me was, "The kids did some yelling, also." I loved the idea, but thought shorter might be better - "The kids yelled too." Just a thought.
Leigh MacKelvey09/26/07
This is why you're in Masters! Not one tiny critique from me. I think it's ready for publishing in some parent magazine. As a Spec. Ed. teacher, I have seen the results of medication for ADHD. I've had children tell me after they have taken the meds for awhile things just like Daniel said. " Ms. Mackelvey, my head doesn't feel fuzzy anymore." "For the first time my mind isn't spinning around and everything seems clearer." So the prayer from Danile was definitely realistic and spot on!
Teri Wilson09/27/07
Kristen, I was a judge this week and your entry really touched me. Bravo for writing something about ADHD medication in a positive light. This can be a controversial topic so kudos for handling it with such grace. I have personal experience with this myself and know what it is like to have judgment rain down on you from people who are insensitive, close-minded and don't know what they are talking about. Great job!!! Love and blessings, Teri P.S. My favorite line - "I was going to swallow my pride and my son was going to swallow a pill."
Sheri Gordon09/27/07
Congratulations on your well deserved EC. This is a great piece.
Beth LaBuff 09/27/07
Really great writing Kristen! Congratulations!
Kristen Hester09/28/07
I just want all readers to know that this is a fiction story. While I do have a son who this is based on, his name is not Daniel. And I DO NOT SERVE pop-tarts for breakfast. (Well, maybe in emergencies.) I got a message from a concerned reader who felt that could be Daniel's problem. Please rest assured that we eat a balanced diet. In fact, my kids have never had a soft drink. We take diet very seriously.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/28/07
I loved your story, the love shown, the humor, the message--great writing, as usual.
Sharon Henderson10/16/07
This may be 'fiction' but it is so close to my real life. My son was having a hard time (to put it mildly) at school and in afterschool care. I had to leave work in an 'emergency' one day and take him to the doctor. My bosses parting words were "don't let them put him on meds" and the daycare director echoed the same. Two weeks later the day care director and his resource teachers all wanted to know what we were doing differently (his main teacher had to know because he had to take the med at school). I asked them to sit down before I told them that he was indeed on Ritalin. They all agreed that this child NEEDED the meds. And to think I almost listened to their 'warnings' that meds were only for 'bad parents' that couldn't control their kids. Thank you, Kristen! Excellent article.