twenty-five: modern chemistry

I whisk the prescription to the pharmacy like the secret service escorting the president. 

Dr. Ivy’s words ring in my head: “This medication is the only medicine I am comfortable prescribing in my twenty years of practice. It is not a stimulant and it is the absolute safest medicine available. You should see results within six to eight weeks.” Her confidence is so intoxicating that I almost forgive her for not diagnosing Dora’s ADHD sooner.

“I’ll wait for it,” I say, handing the prescription to the pharmacy worker before he even has the chance to ask. “I’ll just be sitting right over there,” I point to the chair where I’ll wait, in case he’s not sure where the only pharmacy waiting chair is located.  

I’d like to say I had zero qualms about giving Dora medication to help her focus, and it’s mostly true.  I hate the whiff of judgement lurking in the phrase “The Choice To Medicate Your Child”.  No one Chooses To Medicate Their Daughter’s Asthma.  You never hear other parents at the playground whispering, “I heard they put him on medication for his diabetes.”  

No one in their right mind wants their child to need medication.

But doesn’t Dora deserve to shed the yoke of constant distraction?  Why should she be doomed to scratch an endless itch to stay in motion?  Dora deserves to see and to be seen clearly. Our job is to get her to the race on time, in the right shoes, with a map and a full bottle of water.

I am brimming with defensive righteousness on this topic. I am practically the President Of The Medication Bandwagon right up until the moment I pull that orange bottle out of that crinkly white pharmacy bag and read the label: Dora Reynolds. Take daily.

(Because your daughter needs help).

What if this stuff makes her fall asleep in school?

What if she gains thirty pounds in two months, like that one mother’s son from the message board?

What if she stops painting and drawing?

What if she stops being Dora?

A wild sob bursts out of absolutely nowhere, tailgated by the punching feeling.  I run to the bathroom, out of Dora’s sight. It is all I can do to keep from hurling this bottle right through the bathroom window.

Fuck you. Fuck you fuck you FUCK YOU!

I don’t even know what I’m mad at. This bottle. This morning. Everyone. Everything.  

I stuff the sob and the punching feeling back down because there is no room for freestyle in the tight choreography of an ADHD school morning.  

“Here,” I say, handing Dora the liquid that could help her or potentially harm her. “This is the medicine we talked about.”  You know, just the medicine that could change your life? No bigs.

She eyes the pink liquid warily and it had never occurred to me until right this second that Dora may not like the medicine.  And when Dora does not like something, that thing is dead to her.  That thing is atheist-dead. If you need to resurrect that thing, you’re gonna need an act of God, a pile of candy, and a basketful of puppies on ecstasy. 

She sniffs the medicine first, then takes a nearly invisible amount onto her finger. She lifts her finger to the tippy edge of her tongue.  

She simply has to like the medicine. She doesn’t have to like the taste, but she needs to at least tolerate it because there is no third option.  Dora has already informed us she will never, ever swallow a pill.  

She looks up, considering the taste.

I fold a wet dish towel twice because everything is suuuuper chill.

She grunts like a sommelier.

I open the empty microwave, humming Don’t Stop Believin’.

David swoops into the kitchen for some coffee on his way out the door.

Blechity-blech! Medicine!” he says, cheerily.

When he isn’t looking, I kill him with my face.

I open the refrigerator door and peer inside, allowing my brain to short circuit in a cooler climate before closing the door.

So very casual.

Finally Dora announces, “It’s good.”  With a shrug, she knocks it back and scoots back to the screen time she has earned for being ready for school on time.

It only looks like I am cleaning the coffee grinder but in an alternate universe I throw my fists in the air like Rocky.   

She likes it!

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