My Rare(ADD) Child

Lost in Thought

From the time he could speak Trystan would spin intriguing tales. He had such a vivid imaginary world that he would become angry with us for calling it imaginary. That was ok – for the most part. Except he had a whole other family there! LOL It got a little awkward sometimes.

Trystan’s imaginary world is so vivid and important to him that when he was little and had not had enough time to ‘’day dream’’ he would cry. “I miss my other family”. It was confusing, and heart breaking, and I admit, I was slightly concerned. He had real grief for those people, and I could not console him.  He needed time to ‘go there’.

As Trystan has grown, his devotion to the creativity and ongoing development of that magical internal space has not waned. Unfortunately, he does not always have the ability to pull himself back, or stay connected to the word around him. This can cause problems at school, and most definitely contributes to his problems with sleep. His body will settle but his mind is driven to create. In the busy world of today we call this distracted ADD. As his mother I see him as rare child. I think he has a very special gift.

We live in the world, and Trystan wants to thrive, so we have chosen to follow the path and introduce some tools to help him succeed at school and sleep. In his case we needed to include some medication. We have followed his wishes and continue to make him the leader in these decisions. We also try to balance it all with a heavy dose of freedom to just BE. Today I want to talk about that part. Who he is without interference. My ‘dreamer’.

Trystan will sit, happily for hours. In fact – he NEEDS to. While all the world is hustling and bustling, my son sits. He travels into his own mind and picks up where he left off. He plunges himself into a most beautiful dimension. He has been creating this world bit by bit – every day – his entire life. It is a complex place, a sanctuary of sorts, and with each submersion it grows, and he delves deeper. He is constantly adding on, evolving ideas, creating events, playing out strategies. Entire lives are lived. Characters are born, grow, develop their own personalities, fight battles. On and on it goes. When we go for walks or hikes Trystan will often find a place to sit for a few minutes – or longer if we let him. He needs a little space and quiet. He prefers we not listen in or interrupt. He sits, and listens, and feels. He calls it “earth linking’’. He describes it as trying to hear and feel the story of the land. He wants to connect with all that has happened there and all the creatures who have passed through the space before us. The first time he explained this to me he was about 7. My jawed dropped. My eyes welled with tears. What a deep and beautiful way to view the world. NOT just view it – but to have a relationship with the earth! I knew then, as I still do, that I have an obligation to shelter this flame.

When Trystan plays with his lego, or whatever little toy he is interested in, he draws them into a play world that has been growing an evolving for several years as well. He has an elaborate structure built on the desk in his room. There is a place for everything, a function. To me it looks like a random mess. For a while I would press him to clean it up, tone it down. In time I have come to realise that would be equal to commanding an author to toss their jot notes before finishing their novel. It’s needed. They aren’t finished yet. Everything is linked you see. It all matters.

If you ask him, Trystan will tell you he is daydreaming. Sometimes he will say ‘’Mommy, I need to go have some time to daydream” . In fact when we finally found some medication to help him sleep better his only complaint was that he was not getting enough daydreaming time before he fell asleep and he missed it. (We actually adjusted the routine to give him a little time).  To me ‘dreaming’ feels like the wrong description. Dreaming connotes the experience of staring blankly into space allowing your mind to wander aimlessly. Trystan isn’t doing that. He is creating, exploring and developing wondrously elaborate worlds. There are characters and journey’s and landscapes. It has direction and structure and depth. It’s magic. There must be a better word for that than daydreaming.

Recently a boy at school asked Trystan what his hobby was and he said ‘’daydreaming’’. All the kids laughed and told him “that is for babies’’. He was hurt by this and came home feeling sullen.  When we discussed it my heart ached.  I was sad that his feelings had been hurt – but I understood why the other kids would laugh. It’s a surprising answer. They don’t understand. They don’t likely experience this vast imaginative world. If they do – perhaps other real world things have captured their interest and over taken. Trystan has remained dedicated to his alter world – at a time when most kids his age are turning to sports, lego, and even (heaven help us – school crushes! LOL).  This gift of internal voyaging is a rare privilege with which my son has been graced. We talked about using a different term to explain it – and about trying not to be hurt by these reactions. We talked about how important this is to him. What a gift he has. It is a privilege.  But just like all the super heros in the comics – there are struggles to manage in exchange for the gift.

Trystan enjoys his quiet time, and does not feel lost when he finds himself alone, because it’s a chance to dream. He does not need every minute of every day to be filled for him. In fact he needs down time. Sometimes it is hard for him to find space and quiet when he needs it. At school, large gatherings it can be hard on him. On the other hand when he does find it – he is rarely lonesome.

My son connects with the world around him – deeply – and then uses his imagination to deepen and expand on that connection, bringing elements into his own creative world!! WOW!! WOW!! While the rest of us are seeking to learn and practice mindfulness – it’s his way of being. He does not need to ‘practice’. He lives this relationship to the earth and his own mind. This is incredible, but can be heavy and difficult for such a young boy. He feels everything.  His empathy is powerful and it can feel like too much.  Ah – but how this will serve him in years to come!

My son – is not just a daydreamer – he is a seer, a feeler, a creator. He is whimsical and wise and creative to a level I have yet to be able to define. He notices details, like colour and texture and soft sounds. He picks up on subtle changes in his environment and is curious about everything. He cares, deeply about people and the environment – there is no end to the ways he can choose to share this gift with the world.  For now our job is to allow it to serve him and guard against those discouraging moments.  He needs to know he is not silly and his ‘hobby’ is not lacking worth. As the mother of this child it is my duty to make space for this part of him that could be crowded out so easily if we don’t pay attention. My son is not a daydreamer. He is a DREAM DEVELOPER – the kind many of us wish we could be – the kind this world needs more of.  I am so looking forward to seeing the world unfold through his eyes.





We called it ‘’the crying hour’’.  In reality it was usually two or three hours.  Every night from about 8pm until 11pm, my baby would scream his little teenie tiny face off.  We would do anything and everything to soothe him. We tried walking him, strollering him, dancing.  We went for car rides and played all sorts of music. Dark house, light house. Inside outside.  Warm air cool air.  Bottle, no bottle. We tried swaddling, diaper only, skin to skin.  Nothing worked. We tried putting him down and letting him ‘’cry it out’’, he would cry even harder until he vomited. What I am describing is not an episode we went through in the two year old phase.  This was my sons sleep routine from the very beginning.

Often it was my husband Eric who took the crying hour shifts.  I could not bare it. I would start strong, swishing and whispering loving words into his ear.  Humming and snuggling…but after an hour I would be begging my baby to stop, I would find myself sobbing and apologising to him for not knowing what to do or how to help.  I felt there was something he needed that I could not give him and it tormented me. My husband would step in and take over.  Humming a low consistent hum until Trystan fell asleep from exhaustion. For that team work, I am eternally grateful.

My son did indeed need something I couldn’t provide.  More melatonin! LOL

Trystan had-has insomnia.  More accurately ‘’delayed sleep onset insomnia’’.  We didn’t understand it as insomnia until he was about 7, because he was our first child, and honestly I didn’t know babies could have any kind of insomnia.  It’s not something you really hear about.  When you talk about it people often think it’s an exaggeration or a short term things.  They start talking about warm milk and hot baths. THIS – this is something bigger than that.

Mercifully, as Trystan got older the screaming fits stopped.  He would just lay awake for hours and hours. Sometimes he would cry softly ‘’Mommy, I’m so tired but I can not fall asleep’’. People tell you not to lay with your children.  They say they need to learn to self soothe. I get that. But when your 2 or 4 or 5 year old asks you to keep them company, because they are lonely and tired and their eyes will not shut.  You do it. At least I did. Because I didn’t believe this was a ‘’self soothing’’ problem.

It would be impossible for me to count and detail the thousands of hours and hundreds of things we tried over the years to help Trystan.  We tried everything – and then tried again and again. Diet changes, herbal supplements, teas and tinctures.  There were some things that seemed to help a little. He occasionally fell asleep a little sooner.  Then he started having fully sleepless nights. Or waking at 3 am and not getting back to sleep. He began developing restless leg syndrome which made everything more difficult and uncomfortable.   He needed help. WE needed help.

Like most parents we wanted to avoid pharmaceuticals, but in the end the need for sleep (for ALL of us) became too powerful and we had to try. We started with melatonin, which is a hormone supplement.  The same hormone we all produce naturally to promote sleep. It helped, but for various reasons it became less effective and eventually we found ourselves at the maximum dose but T man was still taking several hours to fall asleep. We were not comfortable with this because he is young and the long term effects of melatonin are not well known. We also felt that he needed to be able to do evening activities but were handcuffed to an early bedtime in order to get him to sleep at a decent time.

Working with our pediatrician we began exploring options. Clonidine is a blood pressure medication but off label uses include calming restless leg and aiding sleep. We agreed to try it.  Trystan now takes a small dose of clonidine 2 hours before bed and a small dose of melatonin about an hour before he wants to sleep, every night. In combination with rigid sleep hygiene and routine  – it helps. It is not perfect – but it helps.

Trystan still has a night or two pretty much every week in which he wakes and can not fall back to sleep.  We continue to seek help and hope to get him to a children’s sleep clinic.  In the meantime we have had to inform his teachers of his sleep issue so that they will not mistake his exhaustion for disinterest or laziness.   Occasionally we have to let him sleep in, or give him a rest day at home. But despite pretty much constant fatigue – he goes to school most days happily.  He works hard, he is motivated to learn. He is a happy, kind and affectionate little dude. He has issues with concentration (who wouldn’t?), he can get a little irritable – but mostly he is just awesome.  He amazes me.

There are a few things we have learned along that way that I think are valuable and I want to share them in hopes that it may benefit other families with sleepless kids.

  1. ROUTINE matters!  The body becomes familiar with the cycles we keep.  The more consistent you can be, the more prepared the body and mind will be and the easier to descend into sleep.
  2. SCREENS matter!  Set aside what you think or want to believe – if you or your child struggle with sleep you need to ditch the screens at least 2 hours before bed.  We occasionally allow for some flex to enjoy a family movie night – but otherwise this is non-negotiable in our house because of the obvious impact it has on sleep. If you can go without false light for a few days DO IT!  Camping or cottaging trips often lead to a few extra hours of sleep.
  3. EXERCISE AND FRESH AIR matter!  For us all! But especially for those who have sleep issues.  Try not to be active right before bed because that can actually make it harder to sleep.  But after school and during the day. GET OUT AND GO!
  4. REST matters!  We stopped saying ‘’go to sleep’’ a long time ago.  It was stupid – he was not trying to stay awake.  We also stopped counting how many hours of sleep and talking about his sleep where we could avoid it.  Instead we focus on rest. ‘’It’s ok if you are not sleeping – just rest, be calm. Let your body have some time’’.  This removed a lot of stress from all of us – including Trystan. I think the reason he copes as well as he does is because he does not lay in bed thinking ‘’I need to get to sleep’’.  He just daydreams, or listens to soft music, or his audiobook. It is restful time even if imperfect.
  5. TOOLS matter!  Audio books, essential oils, massage, meditation, breathwork, story time, bubble baths.  Explore, Explore, Explore. Keep going until you find things that soothe and calm. Lavender helps Trystan immensely.  I say that with conviction. We have consistently noticed that diffusing lavender shortens his routine by 15-20 minutes.  Sometimes he will ask for it to be rubbed on his back – or legs – or feet. He has a sense for what he needs and we honour that.  He also found a specific voice actor who’s voice he finds very soothing, and some stories that he feels give him better dreams. So those are staples.
  6. YOUR CHILD’S INTUITION  and OPINIONS matter! Not all parents or professionals would agree with our strategies.  I’m ok with that. I firmly believe that what we have done with Trystan is important. We have included him – even at 7 years old.  He has been involved In the conversations and decisions about what to try. He knows his medications. He knows what they are for and how much he takes.  He goes with me and picks them up at the pharmacy. He know how to check the label and takes his medications independently. Our policy is ‘’nothing about me without me’’.  There have been a few times he asked to try skipping his meds – so we did. There have been times when he asked for a little more melatonin – so we tried it (within the dose range of course).  Some nights he asks to keep his stories on, other nights he wants to see how it goes without. Some days he wants to lay alone and day dream – other days he asks for company. Lavender on, lavender off, pyjamas, no pyjamas.  Trystan is learning how to self reflect, to regulate and respond to his needs. He is in charge of his sleep journey. I think THAT in the long game is far more valuable than anything else we can offer. I think that is what true self soothing is.

I am saddened sometimes that my little boy has to struggle over something that is so critical and for most kids so simple.  But we try to take it in stride. We try to build an attitude of acceptance. We all have something we need to find our way through in life. We are best to use our energy to figure it out rather than fret or complain or fall into the trap of self pity. I think this in another gift.  Learning this early will serve him well. Life is not easy after all….

I share this story with a sense of pride.  It feels good to give Trystan a little public credit for his patience, persistence and resilience.  He is really a strong kid.  Mostly though I am writing this because I would have loved to find someone elses story a few years ago. I would have been so relieved to know we were not alone.  It would have been such a comfort back when I felt that I had somehow fundamentally ruined my child’s sleep routine by holding him too much, or too little, or whatever.  I share our stories because I want to support other families. I can not promise OUR solutions will be the same as what others need. I can only say…

It’s ok!   You are not alone.

It’s not your fault. Don’t fret.

Rest when you can, sleep will come.

Keep searching!!!  

You will find your way too!



PICKY Kid approved (veggie filled) chocolate muffins!!


YESSSSSSS!!!   Can I get an AMEN!!!???


My children are not just picky – they are excessively limited.  I mean these kids will choose to go hungry rather than eat an under ripe banana or some pasta sauce that ¨touched green¨.

My children are so picky I have to sprinkle nutritional yeast in their peanut butter sandwiches in hopes they will survive the day!  It is BRUTAL.

Suffice it to say I will stop at NOTHING to sneak food value in to things they DO eat.

Today I will share some success that has me completely overjoyed.

  • You will need a decent blender – not fancy but reasonably strong

Place the following in your blender:


  • 1 Banana, large
  • 6 oz Spinach and or kale (give or take….I used about 2 cups of mixed greens)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 3 tsp Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt  (approx ¼ tsp)
  • 2-3 tsp Vanilla or vanilla extract (I use closer to a tablespoon because we LOVE vanilla!)
  • ¼ cup butter + ¼ cup coconut oil (or ½ cup of your fat of choice!
  • ½ cup greek yogurt + ¼ cup whole milk  ( or ¾ cup dairy substitute of your choice!)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder ( if you want a richer chocolate you can safely go to 3 tablespoons)


Blend this crazy concoction until it is SMOOOOOTHE….it will take on a grotesque colour! But fear not…LOL

You need 2 cups of flour…. you have options about what to use.  

What I used:

1 cup Oat flour (Whole oats blended in advance down to a somewhat fine powder)

¼ cup Corn flour

¼ cup Unbleached all purpose flour

¼ cup Raw hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds ground into a fine powder (coffee grinder works great!)

¼ cup Ground Flax seed


YOU could….

Go with all purpose straight up! (there is LOTS of goodness in there already so don´t need to knock yourself out!)

Use half oat and half flour of your choice (best to use something you typically bake with and know how it behaves)

BUCKWHEAT flour!  Yummmy goodness – but the taste is a little different so if this is new to your kids – go no more than HALF and use something familiar the other half…. Like oat or standard all purpose.(I always add extra cinnamon when using buckwheat)

OR DO IT YOUR WAY!!!  🙂 May the force be with you 😀

** In a large bowl, mix your blender concoction into the flour.

(At this point you can consider adding any little extras that will help entice the hooligans.  Some chocolate chips? Nuts? Coconut?…whatever tickles their tummies.)  I opted to add nothing and they were received with rave reviews.

** Bake in greased muffin tin (or lined) approx 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Keep in mind all ovens vary slightly – so watch them, and do the poke test!

They are good warm – but actually taste better when cooled.  So patience is in your favor 🙂


I hope your little toots like them as much as mine do!!  







‘Tis the season for a little talk of love wouldn’t you agree?

I have wanted to write a little something on the topic for quite some time.  It’s a tricky one though.  You have to find the right balance of pragmatism and romanticism.  It takes ninja authoring to slip some sentimental stuff across the screen of the discerning reader with ¨cheese ball¨ allergies. (You know it’s true.)  But today I am inspired to try.

I recently made a solo road trip to be reunited with several childhood friends.  Driving there and back I was flooded with memories and emotion.  The door to the vaults of my long time memories swung wide open and I toured through the countless adventures, accomplishments, trials and challenges that defined the relationships of my past. Understanding that I was still loved by these people, and felt such love for them made me feel warm, and deeply comforted.  I reflected on my life now.  My family, friends and the life my husband, children and I have built.  We know we are lucky and rich in the way of a life full of loving people.  As I contemplated it all I was a little overwhelmed – and CAPTIVATED by all the ways and layers of loving.

We tend to think of love in fairly concrete terms.  The love of a parent, a child or a romantic partner.  We also tend to hold each other to some pretty strict expectations.

If you love me…

¨You wouldn’t hurt me, wouldn’t disrespect me, wouldn’t leave me.¨

¨If you love me, you wouldn’t choose another path, another person.¨

¨If you love me you would say sorry, you would change your ways, you would give me what I ask….¨ on and on it goes.  We over simplify the notion of love.  Which in turn makes it very complicated.   As I was driving I found myself picking through the layers and I felt a sudden sense of understanding.  Love is not the safe guard against mistakes, weakness, or even unkind behaviour.  Love is the tool we use, to guide our behaviour, to do better, to anchor us through the rough times, and to heal when we must move on!

As I drove the snow covered country roads singing along to old favourites and day dreaming about my friends a list of ¨IS¨ and ¨IS NOT¨ began rolling through my mind:

Love is – accepting each other, even the flaws.

Love is not – allowing ourselves to be hurt repeatedly.

  • You can love someone – but still need to let them go if they keep hurting you!

Self Love – is setting the standard for how you will be treated – and letting go when you must – because you must.

Love is – finding a way to honour the good, even in someone who has hurt you.

Love is not – hiding and ignoring what is wrong.

Self Love – is honouring the good in yourself, and protecting your worth above all else.

  • You may have to leave someone behind – but you don´t have to hate them.

Love is – looking for solutions before walking away.

Love is not – holding on excessively despite what the other person wants, or DOES to you.

Self Love – is finding the healthy balance between these two things – for yourself.

  • There will be times when it is the other person who needs to walk away.  In those times self love is about honouring yourself and all that you have to offer.  It is about understanding that relationships are about SO many things beyond our control.  Like timing, and chemistry and history and priorities etc.

Love is forgiveness even when it is difficult.

Love is about saying you are sorry, even when THAT is difficult.

Love is about honesty – even when it is terrifying and you feel vulnerable and exposed.

It is not always needing to be right (even when you are – or were!)

Love is not about keeping tabs and evening the score.

Love is not ¨payback¨ moves or grudges, or having the upper hand.

It is about making each other feel safe, and wanted, in whatever capacity makes sense in your life right now!

A Loved one lets go of agendas and supports YOU.  Roots for you – even if what you want is not what they wish you would want.

Sometimes – love is romance.  It can be hot and steamy.  You may want to find a dark corner and misbehave like a bad teenager… or it can be more subtle, more relaxed.  It can even be grubby and boring!

Sometimes love is pragmatic.  It can be, making each other cups of hot tea and soothing a forehead with your cool hand.  Or it can demand all your strength and will, as you hold each other through a storm of faith, or health, or conscience or trauma.

LOVE CAN BE PLATONIC!! Even when one or both of you wish it weren´t!!

This is a BIG one.…when you LOVE someone – you put their needs in front of your desires, and there will be times when what they NEED is your friendship and love – but not YOU.

In those times – self love is feeling the feelings, and accepting the hurt, knowing that this is just LIFE, and LOVE and in honouring your loved ones needs….you are LOVING THEM WELL!!!  This takes strength – but it is such a gift.

Love is not about remembering birthdays and special dates.  It is about showing each other respect every day.  It is about seeing the goodness and capacity and potential in one another. Helping each other grow!

Love is not shown in lavish gifts and fancy surprises. Though those things are fun and generous. LOVE is shown through acts of kindness, support and self offering.

Love is not demanding to be accommodated,  it is about seeking to make space for each others needs, and quirks.  Striving NOT to take more space than we allow each other, to be quirky, flawed or forgiven.

Love is valuing each others perspective, time, advice, input.

Sometimes – it is a wordless passing of time, just enjoying the privilege of each others presence, energy and LOVE!

Love is, slowing down sometimes.

Saying nothing sometimes,

Walking side by side sometimes – and other times it is standing at the sidelines with your heart in your throat!

Love can be holding on with all your strength – or letting go, despite your aching heart.

Love is sharing…sometimes we find ourselves giving more, sometimes taking more.

It is humbling ourselves when the moment calls upon us to do so.  And building each other up when it is required.

It is having a standard for one another – and holding ourselves accountable…but not expecting perfection.

It is all SO simple….and yet…not at all…
















10574527_10154423818215564_9062885611977114707_n (1)
“Don’t worry, I’ve got you”

I have always loved the movie Finding Nemo.  Near the end of the film Nemo’s Dad (Marlin), speaking about his son says, “I promised I’d never let anything happen to him”.  His friend Dori replies, “that’s a strange thing to promise.”   This simple exchange struck me in a profound way and the echoes of it have shaped my parenting.

Marlins promise is one so many parents make and hold ourselves to with fervour.  It is the promise that haunts us through every new experience, every mistake, every injury.  We see ourselves as the protectors, the guardians of mind, body and soul.  We shackle ourselves with the obligation of protecting our children from the world.  This big, wide, rapid, imperfect  world full of complex emotions, and people and situations.  We hurl ourselves into the role like secret service agents in a fire fight.  We work around the clock trying to shield our children from what we feel is ugly, hurtful or confusing.  We try to prevent anything uncomfortable and where we can not, we try to stop it from happening again, explain it away and dull their pain (and our probably our own ) with hugs and kisses and distraction.  It is a herculean feat and we, of course, are mortals.

The thing that keeps me sane is what I believe Dori was saying in that one short line.  Our job as parents is NOT to prevent anything from ever happening.  I believe it is our job is to be there.  In being there our duty changes with each moment and every experience.  Sometimes there is no doubt we are supposed to intervene to protect them, other times we are merely there to ease the fall, help heal the wounds – or (hardest of all) witness the learning and do nothing.  We are there to put things into perspective, help them understand what is a BIG deal and what is a little ‘bummer’.  We are there to root for, cheer for, cry with and console.  We are there to sort out options, make plans and coach.  But we are the helpers,  we are not fixers, and we are surely not GODS.  

Life is supposed to happen.

Our children NEED us to allow life to happen for them. We do them a disservice when we shield them too much.  In fact we do ourselves one too!  Every child needs a chance to see their own strengths and practice resilience.  Every child needs to feel what the world is like and know that they will be okay.  Every parent needs to see that their child IS strong, and capable.  We need to recognize their resilience and foster it further.  When we stand in the way of adversity we stand in the way of growth.  We stifle our children’s development and we fool them into a belief that life is and should be easy.  Life is NOT easy.  It is wild and rugged and BEAUTIFUL and worth all the effort – but not easy.  We should prepare them for the choices, consequences and difficulties.  We should be doing all we can to walk with them (not for them) through the hard stuff.  Let them know that we are a soft place to land – but not to hide.  When our children feel overwhelmed or unprepared we can be there to honour their feelings, share the experience and offer support.  Our job is to know our children, to stay close enough to recognize when they need us, but leave space for them to experience, experiment, and learn their own way.  It’s difficult, but it is vital.

I long ago released myself from the promise to never let anything happen to my children.  I made some different promises.  I promised to do my best, to pick the right moments. I promised to recognise the difference between grave and uncomfortable, and to help my children do the same.  I promised to protect my children as best I can in the moments they need protecting and to be there to support and hold them in the moments when ‘life happens’. I promised, that I will allow my children to see me laugh as well as cry.  I will be brave sometimes, and share my fears without shame so that they will know it’s right and safe to do both in this family.  I vowed to listen to my children and learn with them as they learn through their own experiences.  And if they will allow me the privilege I gave my oath to share my life experiences with them (the good and the ugly) so that hopefully they can learn through some of my mistakes and not have to make all the same ones themselves.

My most solemn promise was to never make a promise I can’t keep.  Like for example, never letting anything happen to them. Because what a shame it would be if I got in the way of this challenging, beautiful journey they are embarking on. Life.

In addition to these promises I added a prayer.

Dear Sweet Destiny, please be kind with my children.

*What are your promises?  What is your prayer?