Friday, May 08, 2009

An Appearance of Wisdom

Tucker is one of those types of kids that drive some adults crazy…me, being one of them. He has to touch everything, turn every knob, open every drawer, push every button, open anything that is closed (funny how he never closes anything that is opened though…). He has been that way all of his life. We thought that he would grow out of it as he got older. Here he is at 13 and nothing is sacred to him, most of all, those things that irritate me.

He has no need of personal space so he has absolutely no understanding of those who do. In fact, he is often wounded by those who demand that he back off just a little bit. Reminders do little but quell the momentary action. As soon as a parental back is turned, fingers go to fiddling with whatever is there. We have to hide the pens that we really like because if he has one of them for more than a couple of minutes, the clip is broken off or it is taken apart with all the insides disappearing.

It really is a chore trying to curtail these actions. When he was little, we tried for a little while the hands in pockets trick while we were in a store. Well, the only thing that happened with that was us saying every few minutes, "hands in your pockets!" We became the irritants rather than him. Within moments of any entry we made into any store, the shoppers and workers alike knew Tucker's name.

One of the biggest problems that he has in school is that his teachers are constantly saying, "Tucker…", "Tucker…" for one thing or a dozen. Soon the other students in the class pick up on it and it becomes a "Tucker did it…" type of blame game whether he actually did anything or not.

So, Thursday morning, while reading the Daily Office, this popped out at me. In fact, it screamed.

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use, they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence." Colossians 2:20 - 22

When I read it, I immediately thought of this child of ours to whom rules and regulations mean very little.

Tucker is by no means the only child I know who is like this. I think it is safe to say by looking at the statistics on Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity that we, as a nation, are in the process of bringing up a really large number of these children. But I wonder how many of these kids are truly "disordered"?

Maybe, as the author of Colossians points out, we should question our own actions. Just what we are doing by labeling our children as disordered. Perhaps it is not something that is wrong with them…perhaps it is merely "an appearance of wisdom" on our part.

For if we do claim to be "with Christ" how do we continue to live a life of human regulations that possibly inhibit the Spirit from working with us? Our rules of do not, do not, do not, are human commands and teachings. Do these rules matter to God or in living our lives to the glory of God?

There are several layers to this concern: If we want to go with the idea that these children are "disordered" then why so many? What have we done to create this "disorder"? What is in our environment, our food, our clothes, our water that could cause such vast numbers of attention deficit children? Supposedly, approximately 2 million children in the US have been diagnosed with ADHD.

And if there are that many, what does that mean in terms of how we deal with them? Do we medicate them or not? What if they are not really ADHD; rather, what if they are kinesthetic learners who have need of gross motor movement in order to learn best? There is a fine line in distinguishing the difference between ADHD and a learning style. It is estimated that 15% of the population are kinesthetic learners.

What are we willing to do to our children to make them mind? Are we prepared to subject them to "severe treatment of the body"…for what is a mind altering drug but a severe treatment? Yes, these drugs do help in many cases of ADHD but at what cost? Further, the drugs are just band aids, dealing with the symptoms rather than the cause. What is the cause? Or even more importantly, what is the real problem?

We want life to be simple. I can't see that it ever has been so, not even in the nostalgic era of the 50's – James Dean and Tennessee Williams are just two examples of the angst that existed in some. Life is not simple. It is fast and harried and in the midst of all the rush rush, lonely. We want answers and quick fixes. We want solutions that cause the least amount of worry and pain.

What are we willing to accept for our children for the sake of expediency?

For whose quality of life are we most concerned?

Might we be called into an analysis of our own way of dealing with certain things? Might it be a time when we are called into changing our own ways?


Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, and as someone who probably has undiagnosed ADHD, I would say to you, "Thanks be to God" that I grew up in the "pre-Ritalin" era.

I was always good in school but always in trouble for "fidgeting." To this day, I can barely let people complete their sentences and only through really hard work at forcing myself to listen to ALL of it have I been able to be halfway "normal" in conversations.

But I realize had I been medicated, I probably would also have lost a good deal of my speedy wit, my fascination with "how things work", and my overly active imagination. I credit my grandfather, for finding productive ways to foster my imagination and figuring out ways to get me to focus on things to their completion, for a lot of it.

As an adult, I have had to learn ways to "sit still" and even then my "still" is not much like other people's "still."

But part of it is the refusal of thinking I have a "disorder." This is just me, and I had to learn to manage "me." I am still learning.

This really spills over in my prayer life. We have so many people in my church (including my priest) who are heavily "contemplative". I realized my contemplation had to be cataphatic, not apaphatic. I can be "still" physically but my mind is still running at 10,000 RPM and I had to learn how to channel that energy into a direction where my "religious imagination runs wild" (I stole that from Elizabeth Kaeton's blog, BTW.)

So all I can say is maybe it's not so much about what it is, or what causes it, but how to learn what to DO with it that gives Tucker some personal satisfaction and his mom a break!

Barbi Click said...

Girl, this is beautiful and received gratefully. I understand totally about the mind running 10K...mine does the same. and fidgeting...lord god, I know.

and as far as medication -- what music would be lost if he was medicated? What writing might I not have written if I had been? Thanks be to God for those parents who allowed that "imagination" religious or otherwise to run wild.
Thank you Maria. I heard you describe me in some ways. LOL...
I know you are not "disordered". I know that Tucker is not either. Tucker may be irritating but then, so am I sometimes!

Lindy said...

Well, it's interesting. I don't really know. My guess is that children, like the rest of us, are over medicated. But, i think some people really benefit from medication.

I am a kinesthetic learner but, until my head injury, I had quite a steady attention span. I am not sure those are related.

As usual, you've given me something to think about.

Thomas Squiers said...

I was so hyper as a kid. The day I first met Tucker he reminded me of me when I was his age. I didn't see him as hyper. I saw him as a little boy (that's when he was a little boy!). I don't know where I stand on the whole ADHD thing. Maybe some children just have a lot of energy and they dispel it in many different ways - like getting into things. I know that I had to open any thing with a lid on it. I had to open any door that was closed. I pushed buttons (I still have this urge at times...especially at Christmas when you walk down the toy aisle and see all of the singing Santas and Snowmen - I have to make ALL of them sing...much to Jason's dismay!). Overall, as I began to age, I started to calm down. I still get a little hyper in my thoughts and jump to a lot of conclusions quickly. But I would say that age has mellowed me tremendously. I am sure my mother could tell you some tales. Egads!

Maybe we could all learn a lesson from Tucker and break away from our need for solitude. Too often we cling to the norm. Too often we try to hide away and claim our own space - when in essence, our space is truly shared with the world. We may not need to be of this world, but we do live in this world. Maybe sometimes we need to allow ourselves to become free and turn knobs, push buttons, and investigate the insides of ink pens. Perhaps if we do, we may just find that our own space is not as sacred as we once thought.