Friday, March 7, 2008

The Beginning of Our Story

Our story begins with a child, a now twelve year old child with unusually big and very flat feet, who is also unusually tall. Due to his high percentile on child growth charts, we refer to him in this blog (as well a What Me, BUSY? Never!) as Bigfoot. From birth, he has always measured in the top ninety percent of height and weight. By no means is Bigfoot obese in any way. In fact, he's a skinny little twig with a very strong muscular system.

We are not beginning our story in the here and now. We are actually beginning our story several years ago, when Bigfoot was not big footed, or flat footed. Traveling back in time to age November, 2004, my child was wearing a size four shoe, and had worn this size shoe for several months. Previously, I was only buying shoes when he wore them out. Sears was our store of choice for many years for purchasing shoes and clothing for our kids. Their children's apparel policy was full replacement of shoes and clothing as long as your kids maintained the same size. Thanks to this policy, I was only buying new shoes once every year. This would be our last trip to Sears for shoes.

He approached me one afternoon, after school (our kids attended school once upon a time), "Mom, my feet hurt."

"Okay, we'll take a look at them when we get home." Little did I realize, this would be the last pair of Skechers he would wear for a very long time. Spending fifty dollars on a pair of shoes was no big deal when we only spent that kind of money once a year. You can't be outgrowing those shoes already. You haven't had them for more than a few months, I thought.

Bigfoot was right. His feet were hurting. His toes were curling inside his shoes just to get them in. Thinking the situation wasn't what it turned out to be, I made a phone call to darling Bigboy.

"We have to go to the mall tonight."

"And just why do we have to go to the mall?"

"Our son needs new shoes."

"Already? We just bought him new shoes."

"I know. He's complaining that his feet hurt."

"All right. We'll go up after I get home."

Out trip to Sears proved not worth the trip. We were replacing Bigfoot's size four shoes with fives. Size five shoes are the last size available for boys. Even if your kids are tall in stature, Sears does not recognize anyone over the average child as qualifying for the childrens' apparel policy. Our last shoe shopping trip to Sears had come. I had no clue what in store for me.

Oblivious, I was to the concept that my son's ADHD symptoms were connected to his growth spurt patterns. There were, what I felt, too many factors in his situation to prove any possible link between growth and behavior. Suspensions at school (a private school I was paying tuition for), were occurring several times a month. These suspensions, I realized, were the result of his teacher not being willing to meet his personal educational needs. I could go on about that topic, but it would become such a tangent, we'd forget the original story. However, his school situation is the main reason we began homeschooling.

Another major factor I accounted for involved me. I was constantly exhausted. I was sleeping later than acceptable on a regular basis. I had a very difficult time waking up in time to take our kids to school. I don't know why I was constantly exhausted. Everything was overwhelming for me. I admit, I wasn't the best parent at the time. I wasn't always available for my kids as I should have been. I wasn't proud of myself then, nor am I now about that situation. I have always had a difficult time with holding the behavior issues of my children as their issues when the problems lie with me.

We were also going through some straining financial times. I had been unemployed since the beginning of 2004. I had yet to find a replacement for my income. My previous job had been in a union environment. The nature of my employment loss had actually inhibited new employment for me.

I thought I had any of Bigfoot's medically related behavior issues under control. Six months before, we FINALLY completed fifty weeks of vision therapy in a clinic I have not been willing to endorse for four years. I had been convinced by an optometrist that Bigfoot had a visual tracking condition, therefore altering the message between the eyes and the brain. This condition, according to this doctor, leads to ADHD type symptoms. Everything this guy said made sense.

All of his claims lined up with what I had been told by psychologists and medical doctors: Bigfoot did not need ADHD medications. "Don't medicate him," I was repeatedly told. So, I didn't. I'm not a big fan of medicating for ADHD in the first place. Being told my mental and medical doctors not to medicate him made my day. Vision therapy, I was told, would solve those problems. to this day, I do not believe the $15,000 paid by my insurance and I had been well spent.

Three and a half years ago, I had no clue what was happening to my child. Too many factors clouded understanding of what was happening to Bigfoot. This is only the beginning of what was yet to come. almost four years later, we are understanding there is a different problem completely.

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