The pirate is a problem child. Ask anyone. Ask his teacher, ask his parents, ask the kids in his class.
Just don't ask the pirate. He'll tell you he's smart, he likes art, and his mom is really proud of him. He doesn't see himself as a problem child.
The way I see it, I need to keep his self-image where it is and get the rest of him to match it. Progress to this end is notable.
He's learned through a combination of conditioning and experience that he gets away with more when he smiles and regularly employs phrases like "please, thank you, and ma'am." Manipulative, but hey, it works.
As far as his "problem" goes, let me describe:
My five year old boy can't sit still.
He likes to wiggle.
Sometimes he talks without permission.
He doesn't always wait for the teacher to call on him before he blurts out an answer.
If he's bored, he's inclined to play cave by crawling under the table at school.
He's impulsive and acts without thinking.
In art, he likes to paint on things besides the paper.
Clearly, he needs medication. Again, ask anyone. Ask his teachers. Ask his classmates. Ask the school administrator. They told him so. (Well, some of the kids did. The administator asked him if he was taking his medicine. The teacher considered meeting with a social worker on his behalf. The pre-K 4 teacher wanted him tested for every acronym she could think of.)
On the behavioral bell curve, there is no doubt he is not on the bell. I know this. He's further from the bell than he would have been twenty-five years ago because all the kids like him are on meds. Except the ones with parents like his. Two parent households, higher education, enough income that one parent can devote a lot of time to handling problems. Parents with the education and confidence to tell a school system and a pediatrician, "We appreciate your involvement and support. We're not going to go that route. Let us know in what other ways we can help you get him to where he needs to be."
I go to the school on a regular basis so the teacher doesn't have to spend all her time on my child. Because I can. I don't have a 9-5 job that I will lose over this. I'm not backed into a corner or in a position to be intimidated.
Twenty years ago, rich kids were on medication. Ten years ago, all of them were. Must have been a golden age for early education. Now, poor kids are way more likely to be on medication than their luckier counterparts. This is crap.
We are about to see a generation come along where creativity and independence are fostered in the privileged and medicated out of the kids who have no advocate. Their mothers love them just as much but they are more easily influenced by an M.D. and a Masters in Education. Those people most know what's good for our kids, right?
Juvenile brains are developing. Learning pathways are being established at a phenomenal rate. Those pathways laid down under the influence of a scheduled, mind-altering drug are permanently designed to require that drug to function at optimal levels. I'm not raising my kid on speed. (Yes, it's speed. Adderall's primary active ingredient is amphetamine.) Not only am I worried about his brain but his physiology. I can't imagine a growing body subjected to a 60 year old diet pill for ten years is not going to be at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes as an adult.
But what about other people's kids? It's gotten to the point that they damn near need a semester of pharmacology as a requirement for an education degree. I don't propose that there is NEVER a reason to use medication and I'm certainly not okay with telling parents they shouldn't any more than I'm okay with people telling me I should. But there is gross abuse here and as always seems to be the case, the people least able to fight back are the most likely to be victims.
The only thing I can do is be vocal. I explain our decision to the pirate's teacher. I provide documentation. I let her know that I appreciate how much easier he would be on a prescription but the long term risk is too great. And I pray that the love of children that led her to be an educator in the first place will give her the patience to deal with kids like mine and advise another mother, a single mom who's struggling, that medication is faster and easier but not necessarily better.
The guy in this video makes my point better than I can. It's about twenty minutes, but if you're pressed for time start it at 15:41. Watch the whole thing when you have time. He's very funny and really makes you think.