Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Opposition

I live in a world of opposition, probably of my own making. I know I talk about ADHD on here no problem, and I am the first person to tell you that labels are not badges you wear, but doors you open. Get over how the word ADHD makes you feel and peer behind it, you will find resources and compassion and information!

But there is also this other label. And according to some study’s, as many as 40% of ADHD kids carry it as well, and no matter how I try, I can’t seem to make friends with it. It called Oppositional Defiant Disorder or ODD. Have you ever seen three such ugly words together? I’m serious, if you were 9 months pregnant and about to give birth and the doctor came to you and said “Ma’am, congratulations on your healthy baby. To thank you for choosing our hospital, before he’s born we can fix one thing that could potentially cause him some trouble:

Only having one eyeball


Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Which one of those things would you like him to avoid having to deal with?”

The words are SO UGLY, you would seriously pause and consider forgoing an EYEBALL to avoid them. 

But the description? It’s like someone has been following me around and taking notes on my life. Russell is SO EFFING GREAT, he articulate, funny, creative, sensitive and tough. He’s like a like a beam of sunlight and handful of jelly beans… until he is required

to do.



Stand up. Move away from there. Put on your socks. Don’t touch that. Come over here. Hold my hand. The answer is no. I said NO.

My whole life is driven by the necessity to constantly create an environment where he feels like everything is his idea. If you don’t have my kid then you probably just rolled your eyes at my willingness to even say that. I mean, what kind of adult can you turn out when they’ve been catered to that way?

I don’t know, you guys.




Except when I look around his school at the other kids who could fall under all these various labels… it’s obvious I’m doing something right. The adults at his school genuinely like him, every kid I ever meet that is within two grade levels of him knows “that Russell kid,” and they get all excited! “You’re Russell’s mom?!” they ask. The kid makes an impact. He has good manners, he looks you right in your face even though the chances of him trying to remember your name are about zero, and he has contagious enthusiasm.

Russell takes 10mg of Adderall in the morning and then skips to the office at 11 for another 10mg. The extended release Adderall or Vyvanse were simply too intense, and right now I feel good about what we’re doing. I’m in the class a lot, so even though I see that the attention to detail on his work is lacking, I see him sitting in his chair, not glazed over like a zombie, but also not having his named sternly called out repeatedly.

The reason I tell you this, is because those meds seem to be treating his ADHD the way I need them too… and I find myself left holding this other set of behaviors… and they’re just odd. Sorry, I mean O.D.D. 

Here’s an article for you that just totally blew my mind:

The two parts that stand out the most to me are

“ODD is a condition marked by chronic aggression, frequent outbursts, and a tendency to argue, ignore requests, and engage in intentionally annoying behavior.”


“Never lose sight of the fact that oppositional kids usually have a great deal to offer, once their behavior is under control. Oppositional kids are also often quite engaging and bright. They tend to be optimistic and very much their own person, with their own way of looking at the world. Once you work through their defiance, there's a lot there to like."

You guys, I was born for this. I’m a good mom. I’m consistent, and I am lovingly very strict.

And I screw up.

Who in the universe would think it’s a good idea for this kind of thing to be freaking genetic? Why give an ADHD/ODD kid to a couple of ADHD/ODD parents? I don’t like it when my GPS tells me to “turn right in 100 feet” and I’ve ASKED it to boss me around. I’ve always struggled with anyone trying to guide my thoughts or actions. It’s one of the reasons I don’t think God’s mad at me for struggling with organized religion, because he’s the one who handed me the machete, pointed me towards the jungle, and said “Go. Your path is in there somewhere but you’ll have more fun if you find it yourself.”

The amount of self control living in this house requires is intense. It’s like we’re all trying to contain our nature’s, we’re all trying to just get along, we’re all avoiding the cracks in the ice. All the time.

This morning Russell told me I am the “most terrible mother in the world.” Up until that point I was myself. Cheerfully, sternly, directing people closer and closer to their car seats. Cheerfully, sternly, asking dad’s to be more patient with squirrely kids. Cheerfully, sternly, requiring squirrely kids to repeat requests “in a nice tone of voice.”



I snapped so bad. I grabbed that kid like I was going to send him to the moon, I didn’t know what to do so I started trying to take his backpack off, to spank him? To send him to his room? I don’t know because it wouldn’t come off and he had realized his mistake and was trying to drop into a ball on the floor and I am NOT this person! I abandoned them, screaming “I QUIT” and retreated to the two by six foot space of Jon’s closet and perched on a pile of dirty white laundry.

Jon came upstairs and eventually found me. He slid the door back and sat down and looked at me for a while. Then he went downstairs. Russell came up and apologized. I didn’t say anything. Jon left, took Russell to school. I eventually oozed out of the closet like nickelodeon green slime and Alice and I unloaded the dishwasher. She sang me songs about the London Bridge and how her heart goes “thumping like a big brass band.”

Relentless opposition. Phenomenal resources. Endless opportunities. Lean Pink Toddler Machine. One day at a time, ya know?


Julie S said...

OMG! It's like you have reached into my brain and pulled out my thoughts for the last 3 years! I feel your pain! I too, have heard of this disorder but thought at first my 10 year old couldn't possibly have it (Only really bad kids have that struggle). But listening to your words I am now positive this is our battle and the reason why I do not feel like I can ever get ANYWHERE WITH HER! It has made me quit so many times I stopped counting eons ago. Thank you for expressing your feelings about ODD in a way that I can relate. Now, what do you do about it? How do you make it better? When you discover the solution, please share that as well! I'm dying for some sort of normalcy-or at the least- a way to coexist!

Alissa Rae King said...


Julie, I went back and forth all day about wether or not I should have posted this today, and in one comment you have lifted any shadow of doubt. It's amazing what it feels like to know there is at least one other person knows, day by day, how this feels. I'm so glad if this rant could help you in any way, your comment sure helped me. I will tell you that the best book I have ever read is called "Kids Parents and Power Struggles." Without using any labels at all she uses great compassion to speak to the reader with many surprising insights into what makes the pot boil over. I also just purchased a learning resources red/yellow/green timer that counts down tasks for you, and a new magnetic chart from Melissa and Doug. We have thousands of plastic gold coins and a tall glass vase to put them in, he gets five gold coins for each magnet he earns, and one gold coin equals one minute on the computer to "spend" over the weekend. In addition, we don't pour the coins out at the end of the week, we just mark it with a marker, because he's trying to fill up the jar. When he fills it to the brim he gets an extra special prize. Because he can lose coins for back talk etc. it takes him about a month to fill it up, but we've usually already picked the prize and keep it where he can see but not touch it. When I'm not sitting in a closet feeling sorry for myself, this system has actually been super helpful!

Kateastrophe said...

Dear Sis I love you so and I want you to know that I know plenty (PLENTY) of parents who have snapped under far (FAR FAR FAR) less pressure and struggle. And that's with kids who don't have ADHD, ODD, any of it. Just kids being kids. And your "snap" is far (FAR) less awful than so many instances I've heard about and seen with my own eyes. You are so so so so good at your job. I seriously want you to raise Sawyer for me because there is no way in hell I will ever be half the mother that you are.

Rhett and Tiffanie Jackson said...

A agree with Kate, you are awesome!! And we all have our breaking points... my oldest is 12 and was tested at 7 for ADHD but didn't have it...we found out he is just a very stong willed, to smart and old for his own age(seriously my old soul, ask Lorraine!) Now that he is pre-teen and even more stubborn (I say he takes after his dad...but... ;) I miss 7! Haha!! I have sat in my closet many times for timeout! and after a fashion start to giggle because I can hear my children looking for me knowing I am somewhere but not quite sure where! :) One day at a time is correct!!