Archive for February, 2010

Becoming A Refined ADDult.

For the uninitiated, that’s not a spelling mistake.  ADDults are adults with ADD or AD/HD – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It’s a condition most people associate with young boys, running wild in the classroom and bouncing off the walls at home.  But ADD (potentially a more old-fashioned/less technically correct term, but the one I feel applies to me personally) or AD/HD is a wide-ranging beast, and it’s media-portrayed image is a very narrow view.

For me personally, the realisation that there might be something in this came when I read an extensive description of ADD – it was my brain in text format.  Since my A-Levels at school, I have felt my previously intelligent brain slow down.  It used to be easy to learn new things: now it feels as if my head is full of treacle.

I forget everything: dates, meetings, sentences I’m in the middle of saying, what clothes I have on (unless I look down of course…), which is left and which is right.  I cannot map roads in my head.  To me they all run in straight lines, at 90 degree angles to each other: I still can’t figure out A – B in the town I’ve lived in for eight years.  Housework is a behemoth – not physically doing it, but being organised enough to do it consistently.  Listening to anyone, I either drift off into a daydream, or get distracted by my brain making some totally random (to them anyway) connection.  I get stressed to the point of tears when I’m trying to learn anything new that isn’t instantly instinctive, because my brain just shuts down and I can barely hear the person explaining it to me….

The list is too long to go on.  But you know what?  Finding out about ADD is the best thing (discounting Hubby and DD and yadda yadda yadda) to ever happen to me.  I’m not losing my mind, starting to descend into dementia.  There’s a tangible explanation.  I have spent the best part of my life so far hating myself – lazy, forgetful, hopeless, waster, clumsy, unthinking.  And hating myself even more for failing over and over again at my manic, self-flagellating attempts to change.  But now, I get it.  I’m not the godawful person I thought I was: my head works differently to others.

Life is so much easier.  I understand how my brain works, and work with it, not against it.  This is a big step towards being the more refined woman I want to become.  I know to slow down, and then I am less clumsy; to repeat questions, and then I understand instructions; to gracefully say, “I’m so sorry – my mind completely switched off for a second,” instead of pretending I heard and having no idea what response is expected; to write down everything I am going to do, and then I arrive on time, cool and calm, instead of half an hour late, hot and sweaty and flustered, fumbling tired excuses that no one believes any more.

If you describe ADD to anyone, I absolutely, 100% guarantee they will say one of three things: “Ooh, I think I’ve got that,” “That’s just an excuse for being forgetful/lazy,” or “Pff, everyone gets days like that.”  ADD has a lot of symptoms that will show up if the ‘neurotypical’ person (I love that term) is stressed, tired, or generally under the weather.  But someone with ADD will suffer ‘significant impairment’ from these symptoms.  It interferes daily with their lives.  I am not, as yet, not shouting my discovery from the rooftops: diagnosis is hard in the UK, where adult ADD is much less understood.  But I am working with it, on it, and learning as I go.  It truly feels as though I have taken my first steps towards becoming the polished mama, and not the unrefined girl.

Links: there are a million resources, but the best place to start is here, a very active ADD forum full of  information.


Other People’s Children

This past couple of weeks, I have stumbled into a minefield I’ve so far successfully avoided: other people’s children, and specifically, other people’s misbehaving children.

Although my DD (I’ll come up with a better pseudonym soon, I promise) is now 17 months old, I still feel like a teenage mum (I’m 28…).  You know – you think all the other mums know exactly what they’re doing and you’re the only one fumbling along with no rulebook.

But the bit that’s throwing me is when some other kid behaves in a way that you find inappropriate and there is no parent in sight to stop them.  A few examples from a soft play centre we started visiting:

1.  A very snotty nosed boy (yes, his nose unfairly turned me against him from the beginning.  I’m a bad person) whipped DD three times over the head with his knotted blanket.

2. A boy of around 4 barged into the Under 2s area and almost knocked DD off her feet

3. A group of five 3-4 year olds took over the small Under 2s area, making sure their parents weren’t around to tell them off first.

It’s all about confidence.  I had no hesitation telling Boy 1 that wasn’t nice and to stop it.  The second boy, I simply admonished, “Careful!”, steadied DD lightly and left her to get on with it. She just stands there looking worried and takes it, so I’m walking a fine line between sticking up for her and letting her learn to stick up for herself (or at least move out of the way!).

But scenario 3, I totally wussed out.  These children were a group, noisy and brash.  Between them they had at least five parents there.  After five or ten minutes, one parent came and told them to get out.

Someone Else's Child

"...And ANOTHER thing your irritating offspring did..."

Now I’ve worked jobs where I’ve easily controlled bigger groups of children than this.  But in that role, I was the authority – I was supposed to be reining them in.  I was allowed to.  In this role as mum, I find I have no idea how these rules apply any more.  It’s certainly not my job to admonish the children of total strangers, but in scene 1 it was clearly allowable, scene 2 probably ok.  But how far does it go?

The boy in scenario 1 eventually started going round mooching food off everybody.  I mostly ignored him and he gave up, but I could only watch in awe as the mum at the next table, in the broadest, most beautiful Texan drawl, asked him where his ‘mwommy’ was, repeatedly told him he couldn’t have their food as he might not be allowed it, and eventually corralled his big sister into going and finding his mum and telling her he need a drink and some food.

And you know what?  When his 6ft, glamazon, high-heeled, knee-high-booted, skinny-jeaned, caramel-highlighted mwommy eventually swooped him away…I judged her, reader.  Oh, to my shame, I judged her.

And now…teeth!

Homemade Toothpaste

So much prettier than a tube of goop....

Oh Lord, I really am becoming crunchier than I ever thought possible.  I gave up toothpaste.

Ha!  I know, if the thought of giving up shampoo made you go, “Yuk,” that’s probably left you dry retching into your tea.  But just to qualify, I haven’t given up cleaning my teeth.

As I said about shampoo, it’s hard to buy anything in this town that isn’t clothing or booze.  I had a lovely strawberry flavour Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, but it ran out and I kept using Hubby’s Euthymol (that stuff has SLS in.  Yeuch) which was causing me to breakout.

So I knocked up some homemade stuff from recipes on the internet:

1 part salt

3 parts baking soda

1 peppermint oil capsule contents

It’s brilliant!  Now fair enough, the first few times I pulled a very unattractive face at the saltiness of it.  But hey, it was no worse than the Euthymol burn.  My gums were pretty sore for a couple of days too, until I worked out that you don’t need to scrub with this stuff – just gentle brushing.

Now that I’ve got it sussed, it’s working working perfectly.  Obviously a definite conclusion is a long-term thing with teeth, but I’m not getting that furry feeling I always got by evening with commercial toothpaste and my teeth feel exceptionally clean after brushing.  The breakout has cleared up too.

I’m gonna have to find a crunchy-rating system.  I reckon I’m nearing cornflakes….

No ‘Poo: One Month!

Oops, it’s a month already?  I never thought I’d last a month without shampoo or conditioner.  I haven’t felt the need to use them at all (actually, a dab of conditioner once after dyeing it, to counteract a serious ‘strawberry-blonde’ effect!  Yeah, I know, hair dye: the most un-natural product ever.  Stop judging me).

My hair feels great, as clean and light and ungreasy as it did with products, but way silkier, smoother and softer.

I still seem to have skipped the ‘detox’ period.  The only time I’ve had bad hair is days when I haven’t washed it at all (ie. not even a water only), and then it’s not been any worse than a no-wash day when I used shampoo.

So my routine is down to…

Day One – Wash: 1 tbsp salt in chamomile tea

Rinse: 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp honey in water

Day Two – WO

And that’s it!  Making the wash/rinse is easy, I just add an extra mug when I make my morning coffee (although I do decant it into a plastic bottle before I take it into the bathroom.  Toddler + mug + bath = baaaaad.)

But why no detox?  I reckon these are helping:

  1. I was using natural shampoo and conditioner for a couple of years – no nasty chemicals to get out first
  2. I towel dry pretty thoroughly, scalp and hair
  3. My lovely, lovely, brush.  This thing saved me many a time when a particular shampoo stopped treating the itchies.  It’s the cheapest piece of plastic out there, it’s called a scalp massage brush and a hairdresser in Australia gave me it, with the mysterious words, “This will help you.”  I didn’t have a clue what she meant, but my brain was too heat-fuddled to argue.
  4. Scritchin’.  Mmm, nice.  With my hair under the shower, the first thing I do is thoroughly massage my scalp (gently!) with my nails.  It loosens anything that can’t escape cause of the thick hair
  5. I use one of those dye bottles that has a comb to dispense the liquid through on top – it gets the wash to my scalp much easier

So…that’s it.  I cannot see any way I would ever want to go back to shampoo/conditioner now.  It did nothing for my hair that this regime isn’t doing, it cost more, it was less convenient, less natural….

And in case you’re wondering, my hair smells lovely.  I kept making Hubby check 🙂  Not a single person around me has a clue what I’m doing, unless I’ve told them, and a few have even commented on how nice my hair looks!

Score one for the naturals!