My mind wandered back to the doctor’s appointment for him.
“Are there any side effects? I’m not sure I want my son on medication,” I said, my stomach twisting as I considered doing the one thing I said I wouldn’t.
“Mr. Finnigan, I’m on this medication, albeit, a higher dose, but I can promise you that it works,” the doctor assured me.
“I remember when they medicated me as a child. It was horrible, like being trapped inside your own head for six hours at a time,” I said as memories of the six months of my personal hell filtered through my head.
“Things are different now. There have been decades of research between then and now,” the doctor said with a warm smile. “He may get an upset stomach or, if you take him off it, become very tired. It is perfectly safe, and normal, for him to be on it.”
That’s what the doctor had said. It was normal. I felt the shame and anger rise up in me as I watched my son shuffle through the yard. This wasn’t my son anymore, this was some medicated child who was too hard to handle without meds. The shame doubled as the thought was let go. Tears slid down my cheeks as he saw me, approaching in the medicated fashion.
“Are you okay, daddy?” he asked, wrapping his little arms around my neck as he climbed onto my lap.
“I’m okay, buddy,” I lied as the guilt threatened to tear me in half and the tears came faster.
This was my fault. I was a lousy parent because I couldn’t handle my kid unmedicated. I had screwed up, putting him on these meds that were supposed to be safe. They were supposed to let him learn the skills he needed to mitigate his high energy but instead turned him into a child-sized zombie. I felt trapped by my own lack of strength. My lack of patience. My lack of parenting ability.