The kids are all right

Following my two-part series on prescription drug abuse (which can be found in last week’s Thursday and Friday editions of The Evening Sun), I got to thinking on the common misconception that such drugs – thanks to their pill form – are considered “safe” by so many people, particularly children and teenagers.

Could that be, then, the reason this “epidemic of epic proportions,” as Police Chief Joe Angelino called it, is so out of control? Add to that the fact that somebody (trust me, I’m not dumb enough to go anywhere near that one yet) is making a fortune off the illegal sale and distribution of these prescribed pain relievers and I think you’ll see where I’m going with this.

I’m not only disgusted and angry (now I sound like a ‘30 Seconds’ caller), but I have some serious doubts as to why we’re priming today’s kids for a life addicted to pills, prescription or otherwise. Case in point? The controversial medical condition that is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and the fact that we very well may be drugging our kids senseless for no other reason than this ... they’re acting like kids.

If this is the case, well, I’m doubly disgusted.

Regardless, one has to wonder if the behavior displayed by today’s youth is really all that remarkable. And considering my own personal penchant for wildly predictable (if you were a normal, everyday kid), out-of-control activity as a child ... I’d have to say no.

According to WebMD, here are a few of the symptoms those diagnosed with ADHD typically exhibit, along with my own, personal opinion on said symptoms, which, of course, may or may not be misguided.

I’ll let you decide.

Inattention, which “may not become apparent until a child enters the challenging environment of school,” as posted on WebMD’s website.

• Difficulty paying attention to details and a tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless ... I don’t know about you, but isn’t this fairly normal for your typical 8- or 9-year-old?

• Easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others ... It’s called curiosity, and it happens when you’re young ... and learning ... and maturing.

• Inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities ... See above.

• Difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork, or performing tasks that require concentration; frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another ... Maybe I’m mistaken, but this is the kind of behavior I exhibited when I’d rather be riding my bike, trading baseball cards or reading the latest Spider-Man comic.

• Procrastination ... I know plenty of adults, let alone children, who procrastinate on a regular basis. And no, they’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD.

• Disorganized work habits ... See above.

• Forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch) ... Yeah, because we’ve – not one of us – ever been late for an appointment, missed one completely or forgot lunch.

• Failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores ... Again, I know of adults who “fail to complete tasks” all the time. Homework? Chores? Yeah, same thing.

• Frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one's mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations ... To put it simply, they’re kids.

And, of course, the second half of the equation – hyperactivity – with symptoms that “may be apparent in very young preschoolers and are nearly always present before the age of seven.”

Because a hyper 7-year-old is such a rare find, right?

• Fidgeting, squirming when seated ... Sorry, but I can remember quite clearly being 7-years-old, stuck in the classroom, on a beautiful spring day. Chalkboard? Boring. Skateboard? Fun. Case closed.

• Getting up frequently to walk or run around ... I still do this when I’m on the phone or thinking out loud. Please don’t drug me for it.

• Running or climbing excessively when it's inappropriate (in teens this may appear as restlessness) ... No comment. You’re kidding, right?

• Having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities, being always on the go and often talking excessively ... Again, this is a joke, isn’t it? Kids rarely “play quietly,” engage in “quiet leisure activities” or avoid being “always on the go.” It’s called being a kid. As for excessive talking? I still do that. Please don’t drug me.

And that’s the problem with this list of “symptoms,” if you ask me (which you didn’t ... but you are reading this, aren’t you?). Most of them (actually all of them) are – in many cases, I’m sure – kids simply being kids. And yet, it seems there’s a growing number of people who’d rather dope their children up for that very behavior rather than ... gasp ... resort to disciplinary measures.

And no, I’m not advocating beating, smacking or even, dare I say, spanking children. It has, however, become quite evident that America has a problem when it comes to raising its children. Why bother, though, right? It’s easier to take them to the doctor, explain how “out of control” they are, and visit the pharmacy (and don’t forget to pick up some soda while you’re out).

And we wonder what’s wrong with kids today?

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.

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