This fun afternoon at the splash pad with friends (and this especially nice cuddle with Uncle Steve) actually began with probably 30+ minutes of screaming and crying. For no reason. At all. Like… at all, at all. And this was just one experience among many. We call them her “Juno” days. And yes, they are frequent enough to characterize her unfortunately. Yesterday I saw my neighbour at the playground and I was too embarrassed to talk to her because I know with the nice weather leading to all the windows open, she would have been hearing all Juno’s screaming and my subsequent yelling (and even some banging when I was kicking a door in frustration the other day <insert massive blush here> ). I almost started bawling at my mother’s the other day when Juno was having one of her screaming fits. I am honestly completely at my wits end. I can slowly feel myself getting less gentle and more angry. Removing dairy is helping. When she is off it, her skin is clearer, her digestion is healthier, her nose is dry (glory be!!), she sleeps through the night, etc. Her screaming fits though are still happening. Not ALL the time, but it was never all the time. We thought because we had some slip ups in the first couple weeks of dairy free that that was the culprit in her behaviour. But now we are getting more strict and it is still happening… and how.
When I was at my mom’s, she was watching her lose it and she observed to me that it was very similar to my little bro’s Oppositional Defiance Disorder as a child. He had all the symptoms of ODD and ADHD as a child and nearly drove her mad. She recalled to me that he was sent away from the dinner table every single night screaming. Even I can remember that EVERYTHING was a battle. And yet, a sweet and smart child was hidden under all that crazy, defiant behaviour and all those tantrums.
Early in my marriage my mother discovered Feingolds and she followed that and was able to transform my little brother. He has never been on drugs of any kind for his ADHD and no longer displays the characteristics of a child with ODD. I believe it because I’ve seen it.
And yet… I resisted it. My mother has always talked of Feingold’s wonders and the evils of the artificial colouring and flavouring, of preservatives made from crude oil, or too many salicylates. She can see symptoms in many of our family members, friends, and now in my children. I always thought it was that thing… chiropractors think they can solve all your problems, your dentist thinks he can control the health of your whole body through healthy teeth, my doctor thinks antibiotics cure all, and my mother thinks you are ingesting too many chemicals! Well you know what? I think she’s right. And I didn’t come by that realization easily.
In the last few months it has been becoming clearer and clearer. My child is not “normal”.
My friend Lisa put it well to me on the phone yesterday when she said normal kids are happy 98% of the time and unhappy 2% of the time (I think it may be more accurate to say a 90% to 10% split, but you get the idea). But Juno is more like a 60% unhappy, 40% happy kid. It may even be less than that to be honest. She screams and cries, A LOT. And again, these are not just the tantrums of a 2 year old. These are uncontrollable, unreasonable screaming fits that can last hours for no apparent reason. They happen even when she has every possible thing that could make her happy. Nothing seems to help. Not tenderness, not discipline, not solitude, not comfort, not treats, not distraction. I read this today on a website talking about Oppositional Defiant Disorder and it reflects how I increasingly feel. “As a parent, you can’t satisfy a child with ODD, since their thinking is irrational. They clamor for your attention and then tell you to leave them alone. The sad truth is, kids with ODD aren’t very likeable. Parents often feel guilty about the fact that they love their kids, but don’t like being around them. Parents get blamed for their child’s oppositional behavior and tend to heap even more blame on themselves. The parent of a child with ODD often feels incompetent and isolated. They live with the self-imposed shame that other people think they’re bad parents, and that humiliation grows larger as their world gets smaller.”
It makes me tear up just reading that last part about feeling incompetent and humiliated. Welcome to my world. On almost a daily basis I feel paralyzed, overwhelmed, frustrated, shame, and just plain incompetent. You know this. You’ve heard me go on and on and on about Juno on this blog and in real life. You can’t escape it in Sodemanland and neither can I.
After several extremely bad days and that talk with my mother, I went on Feingold’s website www.feingold.org and read the first chapter of his book Why Can’t My Child Behave (on the front page, scroll down and you can find a link to read the first chapter free. I would HIGHLY recommend all mothers read it). If I wasn’t already convinced, that clinched it for me.
So as soon as I get my hands on the food list we are going for it. I’m already weeding out the stuff I know of and carefully watching our labels. I’m not going to avoid the natural salicylates to begin with, but I’m going to do the rest and stick to our dairy free diet. Perhaps you think I’m a little nutty and I’m bouncing around from idea to idea. But like my mother said to me, “we wouldn’t have done it if we weren’t desperate”. And I’ve witnessed this working, so it’s time to try it on my own family. Wanna bet it works? I’m incredibly hopeful. So don’t pop my bubble, ok? 🙂
And to all my dear friends… I’ll try to remember to talk about something else once in awhile. Promise.