When Boone was three, he had some awful bedtimes. During that three year old summer, he would be OK during the day, but as soon as the first hint of nighttime was in the air, it was like a switch would flip. His eyes got wide, his body went tense, and it was like he wasn’t in control of himself anymore.

It was rough. But, I theorized, he was THREE. And adjusting to a new baby brother. And one day, he’d grow out of it.

When Boone was four, the awful bedtimes continued. The same wide eyes and tense muscles, the same nightly stress for his mama. “He just needs to be in school full time,” I thought. “He’ll do much better when he gets worn out from learning all day.”

When Boone was five and started kindergarten, we had some bedtime peace. After school each day, I’d ask “what did you do?” And he would mumble something like “I don’t know” and shrug when I’d ask him where he left his lunch box. Or jacket. Or shoes.

But, clearly, this was an adjustment. He was still adapting, right? Adapting to a full time school day, to school rules, to… everything. I was noticing that other kids were telling their parents everything that happened throughout their day. Boone still wasn’t… but that was hardly anything to worry about, I decided. He was excelling at academics; one of his class’s top readers, top spellers, top workers.

When Boone was six and in first grade, his teacher said to me, “he’s clearly very smart, but his focus is not there.”

Umm… what?



My smart angel precious baby child wasn’t focusing well? At first I dove into some heavy denial (maybe she’s just remembering days he was kind of sick, maybe she’s confusing him with someone else?), but then I thought about the bedtimes. Then I thought about the times he couldn’t tell me what he did during a day of school. Then I thought about all of the lost lunch boxes and clothing items. Then I remembered when my husband Jason, the pediatrician, said, “you know, I think Boone has ADHD.”

I’m very open about my own mental health. Depression, anxiety, and meds are not topics I’ll shy away from.

When they’re about me.

But with Boone… I didn’t want him to bear labels and stigmas so young. He wasn’t at an age where he could “own a diagnosis,” or so I thought, and I did not want to push that on him. And besides, didn’t ADHD give kids unbridled energy? And if he had ADHD, could he do all of the things he does, like speed through novellas and ace spelling tests? In first grade he was doing multiplication worksheets, for crying out loud!

Too cool for school (and focus issues…)?

So, like any reasonable person would do, I cried and stressed out and ate chocolate and avoided making decisions for as long as possible.

But then I realized the problems weren’t going away, despite every “focus hack” I found online or in books. While Boone could sit and read an entire book, if he were told to do something he didn’t want to do, it was an epic battle of wills. It didn’t matter if he was capable of, say, practicing piano, or writing a short journal entry, if he didn’t want to do it, it was a struggle. And not just a little, tiny, let’s talk about it struggle. Nope. It was three year old bedtimes all over again.

So I made an appointment with our pediatrician (who is not Boone’s father, by the way, going for unbiased opinions here) and after some surveys with Boone’s teacher, Jason, and myself, it was clear: Boone’s focus needed help. We had an official diagnosis of ADHD and a plan to trial some low dose medication.

My questions still lingered. Where was all of his energy? Oh yeah… at bedtimes. How could he read so fast? Oh yeah… he was choosing the books he wanted to read. What about the multiplication?! Oh yeah… even though he could solve the problems, getting him to sit down to work on it was a chore, to put it mildly.

I had a little more research to do, but I was ready to help my son reach his full potential in any way I could. I filled a prescription for Concerta, said a prayer, and began to watch and wait.

For part two of this post, come back to this blog NEXT WEEK, Wednesday, September 27.

9 thoughts on “focus, part 1

  1. You are not alone. I know we aren’t together anymore but I will never forget when scott and I went through this with jordon. It was so very hard to wrap my mind around all very similar thoughts and emotions you had. The first 2 meds try’s didn’t work and that was heartbreaking, we started to question everyone and everything about this decision but We decided to try again because it was our child who needed help so bad. This time the results were so undeniably good that we were finally able to totally accept the truth. It took some adjusting and fine tuning but he was like having a whole new child and most of all he was in much better spirits at school with other kids. Thanks for writing this Jenni.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I will go more into medicine trials next week because I have seen (though not directly first hand) how much of a struggle it can be. I really appreciate your words!


  2. If this is any comfort for you and Dr Jason what you are describing is my oldest son’s just about whole childhood. You have come to this diagnosis and treatment much sooner than I did. I just didn’t put all the signs together and accept it until he was in middle school! We had a looonnnggg road of evening homework struggles and many tasky type BATTLES.
    My son too was very capable and intelligent. So much that it kept school and probably us too from accepting how ADHD was affecting his education. I was so frustrated with math sheets and reading logs!!!! My son also could read above grade level and for hours at a time. Getting him to write on his reading log or give a short 1-2 sentence summary? Forget it!!😐
    We tried Adderall- from what I remember it decreased his appetite too much and didn’t help much. Our insurance dictated what med we had to try first, second and third. His good friend also had adHD and said Vyvanse was working very well for him. We had to try Concerta first though. I think it seemed to help initially but then he seemed like he was getting upset/angry very easy.
    After many requests he was finally able to try Vyvanse.
    Finally! He was so emgaged and less ditracted😄. The medication doesn’t take away the adhd. It just has helped him. He has not been good at taking his med consistently. I would recommend establishing a routine that he gets very used to the time and your dispensing it to him. If you start Boone out at this age it will be a routine. My son was middle school and hs and didn’t want me to always remind him. I wish I would just have been the one to give it to him everyday at the same time. That would have saved a lot of battles and established a routine instead of hoping he would take charge of it and be responsible. Hang in there! I have been there!
    One parent/teacher conference I told the teacher I wasn’t going to spend my evenings with my son and husband frustrated and tense working on homework that he could whip out in 3mins if he was passionate about it. He needed to shut his mind off the minute he left the school building. I tried getting hmwk done right away. I tried tempting him with treats or anything I could think of. We tried waiting to work on it after dinner or before bedtime. Nothing really worked, until he was on the vyvanse and working through his hmwk with him. And a lot of positive reinforcement!!
    I hope you find comfort in knowing there are a lot of parents to boys that go through this too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This resonated with me because I have the same kind of ADD that your son has, but I was only diagnosed as an adult (I’m 28). I read fast, performed well in school, etc, but *only* on things that I found interesting or that challenged me in a way that wasn’t “just do this homework because I said so”. Internally, I was frustrated that I got bored so easily – math homework? Meh, don’t get this, don’t want to do it. Good book? Read it in a night.

    I do sometimes wonder what elementary/middle/high school would have been like if my ADD had been identified at a young age and rectified with therapy/medication. I saw a marked difference in my work as an adult, and we’re so much more able to make new neural connections at 5 or 8 than at 25 or 28.

    Liked by 1 person

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