People ask, "How's Johnny?" We reply with an enthusiastic "fine". In reality, they have no idea what they are asking! Those that know of his challenges are sympathetic. We aren't seeking sympathy, however, I thank God for those He's given me to talk with.

Those with children who "sit with their hands folded" and barely utter a peep in class or in social situations really have no clue what you go through on a daily basis with your challenging child! I don't get past "fine" with them. Because of the Lord's generosity, I have individuals in my life who are supportive. Unfortunately, some friends and relatives have turned their backs on us over our child's hyperactivity. Never mind the fact he never them or their kids or was mischievous! Friends and family members that have stood by us through this and offer help are treasured all the more.

From the moment Johnny climbed into our world, relatives weren't real involved (some are dead) so I had to be creative. Our son was always well taken care of despite the fact I struggled with depression periodically. And some days, it seemed to be uphill battles just trying to leave the house and be productive. Most days I felt irritable and doing absolutely nothing!

Do not even ask what other environments, like school, can do to them! I have learned from my own experiences (usually not positive) in public and Christian elementary schools, getting ostracized picked on and singled out -- that I need to be his advocate! But - if he truly did something wrong, we do give him consequences. I have actually had teachers who didn't know what to do though some tried to learn.

It is such a positive that Johnny does have friends in his world, including our adoring pet cat. He has a kind heart, has a wonderful way with animals and smaller children, can do the right thing but selfishness comes to visit! He wants his way! He is best one-on-one. He isn't athletic, but will play if invited.

As with many parents, I have to say things over and over to him! Soon he will recite my speeches.

I battle my temper and my own selfish desires every day. It is my daily struggle to let God fight more for me instead of fighting with those around me. I try not to beat myself up for what I've done wrong and look at what I've done right with God's help.

Having learned from my mistakes and successes, I am steering him towards what worked for me. Hubby has a great work record, which will help our son. He sees "You get up for work no matter what!" He sees us reading, helping others (hopefully), cooking, cleaning, performing music, going to jobs, church and activities. Johnny tends to be industrious and thinks positively of himself.

Johnny is mature for his age, but that doesn't mean he gets free reign. His video games/TV are monitored as well. We know his mind can't handle most of what's out there yet, though he thinks he can. The world has certainly changed since I was growing up! One of the best things I learned from a friend is if a friend or neighbor's child hurts yours or doesn't mesh with yours, then keep them apart. If you feel comfortable, discuss it and come up with a plan. Do not run and hide. That will isolate you and your child. It is possible to get together with other moms without your kids. You will build your own support system and be able to finish an entire sentence without interruption!

Your hyperactive/challenging child is not an excuse for you or them to drop out of life nor does it have to be a handicap! These kids have gifts and they should be nurtured and developed. Not ostracized because they don't fit in the mold and sit with their hands folded. It has been said that some hyperactive/challenging folks have accomplished more than those who are lower maintenance. It may be just a matter of channeling these kids' energy, drive, and focus. And do not say, try harder, that can worsen an already difficult situation.

Through all this I feel that special needs and/or challenging children are not a curse, but a blessing (maybe in disguise). This may be a tool for God to make you a stronger individual and go to Him for help. It's okay not to be perfect; you won't reach perfection this side of heaven.

Remember, God designed your children, so don't forget to ask Him for a blueprint!!