Cooper Nemeth's body was discovered in the past month. He was 17, a good kid, an athlete and was recently diagnosed with ADHD, depression and anxiety. His parents were afraid of him turning to drugs because of the diagnosis.
Raising an ADD child is challenging. With mine, he had one idea in his head and then there was the truth. He chose to believe what was in his head. He dwelled on the negative rather than the positive and never thought he was good enough. He listened to his peers instead of his parents and often I would lie awake at night wondering if this is the night the police would be at my door asking me to identify a body.
I know the exact moment he changed. At 10, he was like a big fluffy puppy dog, all limbs, happy and full of laughter. His sense of humour was contagious and his personality was infectious. Adults adored him, and so did most of the kids. There were always the one or two that didn't, but he handled that okay.
He excelled at any sport he touched. I remember his years of playing baseball and he would be out in left field watching a bird, scratching his head, with a ball coming directly for him and he would reach his arm up and snag that beast in mid flight.
He ran track in school, while smoking a pack a day, and ran in combat boots. Won every single time.
Around 12 or 13 things slide downhill fast. He ran into a group of bad influences, he refused to listen to anything we said and stayed away days at a time. He had a steady job, went to school, but still marched to his own dysfunctional drummer. Speaking to him was like speaking to someone who did not understand English.
I kept trying to get him to see the positive of ADD; it is a gift. People will ADD see the world differently and can accomplish so much more than someone without ADD. You just need to channel that energy in a positive way.
Unfortunately, the kids my son knew, used it to their advantage; staying away from home, drinking, and getting into fights. No matter what we said or did, nothing changed. We tried psychiatric counselling, medication, going off medication, talking, begging, pleading. Nothing worked.
As a parent, I have never been so lost or confused as during this time. And angry. Dammit. I was very angry. My husband I both had horrific childhoods. Between the two of us we suffered severe poverty to the point where there was no food, beatings, severe sexual abuse, torture and emotional dissonance. We both made the promise to each other early on in our relationship that when we had children, we would treat them like people, not objects. We would love them unconditionally, think about their feelings make sure they knew they were loved, ensure their well being with clothing and food. And value and respect them. We did that, and it still blew up in our face.
Having kids is a crapshoot. Any good teacher or psychologist will tell you that. You can do all the right things and it can still turn out less than stellar. Or, conversely, you can starve, beat or abuse your kids emotionally, telling them things like I wish I used a condom with you, and have them turn into the most incredible caring and empathic people out there.
I read about Cooper and my heart broke. My heart broke for Cooper and the choices he made; my heart shattered for his parents, who I am sure were doing everything they thought they could to help Cooper, but it still wasn't enough.
Some ADD kids are tough, strong willed, strong minded, focused and make good decisions. Then there are the ones like Cooper who tend to be followers and controlled by the wrong kinds of people.
I have no clue what the answer is. I thought I did before I had children, cause it seemed so simple to me: love them, respect them, feed them, nurture their minds and they will stay in your wolf pack forever.
Nope. Apparently doing all the right things will still bring you heartache and grief.
I am so sorry for your loss, Brent and Gaylene. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you see the strength, wisdom and joy you gave Cooper and I hope you find your way back from Hell.