Friday, January 11, 2008

Six Years Old

Tomorrow is Daniel's sixth birthday. Amazing! You wouldn't believe how he has changed. The transformation, from hyperactive, fit-throwing five-year-old, to mature, helpful six-year-old, is miraculous. I can really count on Daniel now. He may whine mildly at times, but we no longer experience fits, and he even apologizes, unprompted, for whining.

I was convinced, as recently as last summer, that he had ADHD. I put him in public kindergarten in September, mostly so I could find out for sure if he had this disorder. The symptoms have to occur in more than one setting to receive a diagnoses. He was very hyper the first half of the first day, and the teacher had to speak to him a lot. However, after lunch that day and for the next four weeks, he was a model citizen for his teacher. That was enough to convince me that his symptoms at home, while very trying on us as a family, obviously didn't point to ADHD.

Two weeks into kindergarten, he asked me why people don't pray at school. That really tugged at my heart. He had just finished Vacation Bible School a few weeks prior to the start of school, where he had initiated his own relationship with God. We wanted that relationship to flourish, at this tender age, unchallenged by a non-supportive environment, so I withdrew him the first week of October and began homeschooling him. Christian school would have been our first choice, but it is very costly.

We've never looked back. The whole family is enjoying it, and brother Timothy, 4, schools with Daniel. They are at the same level in everything, although they have different strengths. Timothy doesn't have to participate, but he wants to and Daniel wants him too, as well.

It is still nerve wracking to get Daniel to follow through quickly on some tasks, like getting undressed and into the tub, or getting dressed in the mornings. And he is notoriously bad at remaining seated at the dinner table. Part of his problem is that he is very chatty at this age and can't seem to talk and move at the same time. lol

Nevertheless, he is an angel compared to what we've experienced from him for the last few years. We feel like we are just getting to know him.

I saw a birthday blog recently in which a mom wrote what she loved about her birthday child. I will try to be as eloquent, and hopefully Daniel will see and appreciate this post someday.

My Daniel

I love you, Daniel! You make me so proud and happy! Thank you for your passion for each season, and the joys they bring. I love the way you've been looking out for that praying mantis egg sac this winter, waiting for the blessing of spring babies.

I love the way your face lights up when you catch yet another frog, or another firefly. I love the way, last summer, you so passionately watched a dragonfly outside the dining room window, hoping it would stick around long enough for you to finish your lunch and grab your net. I love the way you're trying to understand why you have to let your insect treasures go, and I love that doing so tugs at your heart.

Thank you for telling me, unprompted, that you love me, and for returning my smiles with heartfelt gladness. Thank you for still wanting me to cuddle with you for five minutes at bedtime.

Thank you for telling me how much you appreciate me doing a puzzle with you, or coloring with you, or playing cards with you. Thank you for wanting to be with me; I know that desire won't last forever, and these moments spent together in your childhood are priceless.

I love the way you still sleep with and hug your beloved bunny, and, strangely enough, I love that we still have to look for him every night at bedtime.

I love the joy it brings you to bake something with me. You are always so proud when someone tells you what a good baker you are.

I love that you try so hard to form each alphabet letter correctly, even though it is hard for you.

I love the way you follow me from room to room, wanting to chat with me. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but it warms my heart too.

I love that you are tender with and attentive to your sister. I love that you are a best friend to your brother. I love that you miss Emily when she naps and that you eagerly await seeing her again. I love that her face lights up when you come into a room.

You are everything a mother could want in a son.

You are my Doodlebug, and I love you. Happy Birthday, Daniel!


Anonymous said...

Hi there... I would love to hear more about your son Daniel. When I first read about him in an earlier post I thought "he sounds just like my daughter". Your description of him today, turning 6, gives me great hope. Our daughter, Grace, will be 6 the end of May. She is ADHD and she does still have many tantrums. Any tricks or ideas for handling a "high needs" child?

momma's heart said...

Hi Liz,

I sure know where you are coming from. I will list the symptoms Daniel had that led me to believe he had ADHD.

- no ability to delay gratification

- no volume control

- invading other's space

- impulsively grabbing toys

- screaming, shouting fits

- couldn't calm himself

- always worse when routine changed

- desiring constant attention from parents, visitors, sibling

- would only sit still for something he really loved, like playing with trains or listening to his bedtime stories

-prolonged bedwetting

- trouble leaving playdates, parks, anything he enjoyed

- much worse when tired

They have so many negative interactions with parents, that they become even needier. I've read that you need to give about 4 positives for every negative with ADHD or high-needs kids.

The following things helped him:
- being out in nature
- exercising
- sticking to strict routine
- positive comments
- one-on-one interaction
- keeping busy (BIG ONE)

As far as discipline goes, we learned that a fit would always get worse if we got angry. You have to dole out a consequence calmly, even though that is the last thing you feel you can do.

Try holding her down until she calms, then give a consequence. They feel like you don't love them when they get out of control, and that makes them panic, worsening the fit.

It is so hard, because they disrupt the family dynamics so much.

I don't know why Daniel got better - maturity, prayer, conscience due to own relationship with God? I just don't know.

By the way, I'm guessing Daniel's last tantrum was sometime in early November. Only some whining since then.

He was not "under foot" at all during the summer/fall, when he was outside a good portion of the day. Now that it is winter and he doesn't get enough exercise, he asks me to "play" with him much more. His brother has recently gotten interested in using the computer, and isn't in the playroom with Daniel as much. Hence, Daniel is following me and wanting my attention more.

We get him out as often as possible to ride his bike. I wish we could afford a gym membership. It would help Daniel a lot during the winter. We have an indoor "ski" exerciser, but it is dangerous to have out with a baby around. If you have an exercise machine, it would help her in the winter.

Best of luck to you. Would love to hear back from you.