Our son has always been an active little boy. All “boy”! Constantly on the go. I used to call him my little tornado in his toddler years. I spent my days cleaning up one mess while he made another. This was motherhood, I suspected. I was exhausted in raising a “boy”. I was constantly hovering over him as he played, because I’m adamant about discipline and consistency. I can’t even begin to estimate the number of times I’ve said the words “calm down” or “chill out”. But that’s the life of a boy’s mother, right? It’s the age, he will mature, things will get easier, the discipline will do it’s work.
As he grew and entered into preschool, I enrolled him in lots of different activities including soccer, karate, t-ball. It seemed that no matter where we were or what we were doing, my kid was the “bad” kid. The kid running circles around the soccer field while all the other children listened to the coach and did what was asked. I began getting phone calls from the teachers at school, talks from Sunday School teachers…my kid just didn’t want to sit still or behave. Was he doing things for attention? Trying to impress other children? That behavior was certainly not acceptable to me or in our home. Why is my parenting and discipline not working? Am I a failure as a parent?
As he entered Kindergarden, I was still getting phone calls from the teacher and even a couple from the principal. The teacher commented that he was very “oral”, in that he chewed on his shirt, pencils, most anything around him. He did silly things and got in trouble frequently. His behavior as a whole seemed to improve as the year progressed, but still left a lot to be desired. Surely he’s still just a young boy, he will grow up soon. I was confident.
Now on to First Grade. It quickly turned into a nightmare. Call after call from the teacher. He was disruptive to the class. He would not complete his independent work. Argh! I pulled my hair out, I continued to read book after book on parenting and discipline. I tried to be super strict and hard on him. I tried to be more lenient and let him make more of his own choices and deal with the natural consequences. I took away TV, toys, privileges…even his birthday party. I tried every angle and nothing seemed to work. Was it more than just being a boy? When should I start being concerned that something more may be going on? Did he have ADHD? In my opinion, even if he had, medicating him was not going to be an option. I would not medicate him. There had to be more answers that I was not finding in the parenting books. Something more was going on, but what?
While exploring the bookstore shelves and looking on the internet, I kept seeing ADHD “diet” references. So I began to dig further. My digging led me to the Feingold Diet. In a nutshell, this program eliminates all artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweetners, preservatives and some natural salicylic foods from our diet. I, being the cheap butt that I am, thought it was just a money maker of some sort since you needed to pay to join. You needed to “join” in order to learn what foods and specifically what brands of foods you could eat on the diet. I wasn’t having that, I’d do this on my own, I can read labels. But (wisely) what I did invest in through Amazon was a book entitled “Why Can’t My Child Behave” by Jane Hersey. It was just after Christmas when I received the book and once I started reading it, I devoured the information, the kids in the stories where so similar to my child, and they were finding success with this new way of eating. I knew I had to try this diet out, and I knew that I could not do it alone. I also learned from this book that there are too many loopholes in food labeling, making it too time consuming and difficult for me to do without buying into the program.
So at the beginning of January 2013, I purchased my membership with Feingold and was armed with my 300 page shopping list, and other publications to help me begin my journey. And so it began….our first steps toward a real food transition.