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Drugged Children
October 17, 2011

One of the responsibilities I have as an employee at an elementary school is morning bus duty. Myself and one other teacher stand at a doorway to monitor the Pre-K to 2nd Grade children getting off the bus and coming into the building. The first half hour of my mornings usually consists of a whole lot of "stop running" or "keep moving" or "Hey, I said stop running!" with a little bit of "WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU STILL RUNNING, YOU LITTLE BASTARD?!" thrown in and then it gets topped off with a healthy dose of "Come on, let's go to the nurse to get the blood cleaned off your face. I TOLD you to stop running!" (because children's faces and concrete don't get along well). Once all the buses have arrived and dropped off their loads, I have just enough time to go hide behind the dumpster and have a cigarette. Such a glorious life I lead!

A few weeks ago, this routine was thrown off (as it sometimes is). One of the bus drivers called out that she needed help. Usually this means that a kid got sick and puked on the bus, so the driver wants someone to take him to the nurse. I got on the bus and discovered a 2nd grade child laid over in the seat, completely unresponsive. She was fine, just asleep. And by asleep I mean that she was knocked the fuck OUT. The driver tells me that it's a result of her medication. I've seen this before. Often when kids get their ADD meds changed, it can have side effects like this. I managed to get the girl up and walking on her own, though it was totally auto-pilot with no awareness whatsoever. I walked her to her classroom and left her with the teacher.

This scenario has happened three times in the last 2 weeks. I hadn't even known she was on any meds, but this got me thinking. I see so many children ever week (over 800) that it's hard to notice a change in any one particular child, but this incident got my memory working. I remember this little girl when she was in Kindergarten. She was vibrant, active, and fun-loving. Then I thought about her in 1st Grade. I remember having to tell her to stop talking and stop playing and pay attention at least once or twice every time she came to my class. And then I remember that at some point she came in and was very quiet. So quiet that I distinctly remember asking her if she was ok. She seemed sad, even depressed! But she insisted that she was fine and nothing was wrong, so I left it alone. I can see now that she's been that way every time she's come to me, ever since.

Upon remembering these things, I was struck with a realization. The child I used to teach and the child I teach now are not the same person. That vibrant and happy little girl is gone; her personality suppressed by the psychotropic drugs fed to her. She simply is NOT the same person anymore.

And then I remember again all those times I told her to stop talking, stop playing, and pay attention. As I remember this, I realize that I got my wish, but holy shit what a price was paid for that.... In the space of an hour, I would have to "correct her behavior" once or twice, so I imainge that her teacher and parents had to do it a whole LOT more.

Ah... and now we see the reason she's on drugs.

Was it worth it? I mean, sure, it was a minor annoyance to get her to stop giggling and listen to me when I was teaching, but was getting rid of that minor inconvenience worth virtually destroying the person that she was? The obvious answer (unless you're a moron) is NO, it was NOT. In fact, nothing even CLOSE was called for. Yes, she was a silly little girl who had trouble being serious: BIG FUCKING DEAL! I would gladly have that inconvenience back if it meant that I could see that kid again; the one that I remember. I remember, also, that even though she provided a minor annoyance, she was FUN and enjoyable to be around! I was quite fond of her, as I recall, and I'd be happy to have the "bad" parts of her personality back if that meant having her WHOLE personality back.

And that's what it all comes down to, isn't it? Parents and teachers - fucking ADULTS - deciding that they aren't happy with a child's personality, so they think it's just fucking A-OK to use mentally altering substances to get rid of that personality. I have to honestly question if these people understand what it actually means to LOVE someone. See, if you love a person then you love the WHOLE person, including their flaws. You might not LIKE those flaws, but you LOVE that person, so you fucking deal with it! Hell, you don't even have to go as far as loving a person. All you have to do is have a little respect for the differences in people and realize that not everyone is going to be exactly the way you want them to fucking be and THAT'S PERFECTLY FINE, YOU IDIOT!

I want that little girl back. I want to see the happy child back. I WANT to be OH-SO-FUCKING-BURDENED by having to bring her attention back to me every so often. I WANT THAT! But do you know what I have instead? I have a sad puny little thing who sits in my room and listens the entire time but RETAINS NOTHING of the information I'm giving her!

How the fuck does that help?! She used to get only half of what was taught to her because she was too busy playing and now she gets only half of what's taught to her because SHE'S FUCKING STONED! This didn't even accomplish the goal that they were supposedly after! This hasn't helped her educational career, at all! The only thing this has done was altered her behavior to make her easier to manage for the adults in her life. Not one goddamn thing about this has benefitted HER - not one! It's ALL been about making the lives of the adults around her easier.

Well, FUCK THAT SHIT! It HASN'T made MY life any "easier." Y'know why? Because I didn't consider it to be a big deal that I had to re-focus her attention on me. I considered that to be part of my fucking job and I'm not going to bitch and moan about doing it!

Children want to run and jump and play, that's what they DO. That's their normal and natural default mode. We, the adults, are the ones making them sit still, pay attention, and in general act contrary to their nature for seven fucking hours every day. They should be rewarded when they do it, not punished when they don't! OR, if they must be punished when they fail to act the way their fucking masters want them to act, then at the very least the punishment should be fitting and it should make sense! Taking away someone's personality - their very fucking soul - because they couldn't act the way you wanted them to act is INSANE and CRUEL!

Now let me be clear that this isn't always the case. ADD/ADHD *is* a real disorder. It actually occurs in about 5-10% percent of the children who are diagnosed with it. It occurs when a person never develops the emotional control that they're supposed to develop naturally. Children who actually *have* ADD/ADHD are not just "disruptive" they are a danger to themselves and others and telling them to stop doesn't work. So, if your child is just fucking annoying and a little "hyper" then how about you just get the fuck over it and try loving your kid for who they are instead of trying to force them to be who you think they should be. Same thing to all the teachers out there. A student being a pain in the ass is NOT a reason to feed them mind-altering drugs! It's a reason for you to get off your fat lazy ass and work on teaching that child HOW to pay attention instead of just demanding that they do it when they might not know what the fuck you're talking about! Maybe the kid is perfectly capable of doing what you ask, but just doesn't know HOW! Maybe they have shitty parents and a shitty home life and maybe you should get over yourself with this fucking stupid idea that you should EVER be allowed to decide whether someone's personality is "right" or not.

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