Thursday, September 13, 2007

"He has the grace of a hippopotamus and a penguin's love child."

Still the Ludi Romani. I figured I should explain what the Ludi Romani is, exactly. They were games, with races (games in the Circus Maximus) for last four days, and they had dramatic performances (a rarity in Rome-- they, like Americans, preferred comedies and satires). It would start with a solemn procession, then chariot races and footraces. And no one really had to work. Well, the rich people didn't. THere should me more 15-day-long holidays in modern culture, don't you think?


I made a bazillion phone calls this afternoon, but my bills are paid and the credit cards are canceled, at least. And I have an appointment at Health Services. I'm going to get the Gardasil HPV vaccine thingy. Mummy's been pestering me about it.


Also, I had my first Orgo lab today-- not a real lab, just an intro. Because most of our equipment is crazy expensive, they've given us keys to "our drawer," where we have a full set of everything and no one else uses it. Thus, they can catch us if we break something. And make us pay through the nose for it.


The other night I was talking to Ryter about future careers and he mentioned that his psychiatrist told him the money's in child psychiatry. This devolved into a mini-debate, because I find most modern child psychiatry to be akin to plastic surgery.

Both are sometimes needed, badly. There are children (by which I mean under 10) who are actually mentally ill, for whom early intervention is a godsend. Also, some children have post-traumatic stress disorders or autism or some other issue that is beyond normal pediatrician and parental care. At the same time, accident victims are often badly disfigured and require reconstruction, or children are born with deformities that require correction.

And yet, just as most people who go to plastic surgery actually need self-esteem, a supportive social network, diet, exercise and maybe counseling, most children who are sent to psychiatrists these days need parents.

ADHD, "depression," lack of motivation, imaginary friends-- parents assume that if their kid isn't the same as every other kid or different in a brilliant/precocious/cute way, he needs therapy. ADHD? Most kids diagnosed with ADHD are just hyperactive with short attention spans. Maybe they need a little Ritalin, if it's a problem in class. Don't get me started on depression. Kids are impressionable. Usually depressive tendencies can be countered by loving, attentive parents who still know how to give their kid space, and maybe a change of schools. Usually they just need to make some friends. And if my children DON'T have imaginary friends I'm gonna worry that they're being creatively stunted somehow.

Ryter argues that sometimes kids just need to talk. You know who I talked to when I was a kid and upset or hurt? My mom. She was my confidante and adviser and counselor. Yes, teenagers are rebellious and don't talk to their parents. Nothing I say here applies to teenagers. Teenager-hood is 5-8 years of PMS, essentially. If that's not enough to send you into therapy I don't know what is.

BUT. The truth is, if your kid needs therapy because they "need to talk," you aren't being a good parent. A good parent makes sure their child knows that they aren't judgmental, they will listen and be there, etc. No kid should be afraid to talk to their parents for any reason. Note I said "kid," because no one expects a conversation that starts out with "Mom, I think I should go on the pill" to end well.

Kids have problems that seem huge to them, but small to us. They're problems a parent can handle (some exceptions, naturally-- "Mommy, the priest touched me in the private place" won't end well either).

I'm not saying that there shouldn't be child psychiatrists, clearly. I'm saying that I could never be one (for reasons besides the obvious "couldn't be any kind of psychiatrist"). Because while I could treat the truly ill children, if I got some moron parent in there looking for an ADHD diagnosis to explain why their kid doesn't listen to them, I would tell them that I won't treat their kid until they take a parenting class, got some counseling, and took some time off work to play with the child. I doubt that would go over well...

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