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 Category:  General Non-Fiction
  Posted: February 15, 2020      Views: 66

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 ABOUT
PATTY PALMER 

I've been writing poetry for several years now. Some are serious. Some are funny. Some are of a Christian faith. I pride myself in being able to write a poem about almost anything. Give me a subject and I'll give you a poem. It takes m - more...

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of language.
Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
You are what you eat!
"That's My Boy!" by Patty Palmer



He was 4 years old and a real sweetie. His hair was so blonde it was almost white and he had absolutely beautiful blue eyes. And, a most contagious laugh! He was our second adopted son. I remember at the hearing for the finalization of our adoption, the judge's final words were, "Nothing could make me happier than to sign this document that will bind this family together forever. I see a mom and dad who really needs this little guy and this little guy who really needs this mom and this dad! Congratulations!"


Freddie settled in easily. He was interested in how everything worked. More than once I found parts in his room where he had dismantled something and then didn't know how to put it back together again. We would find radios, flashlights, an electric razor, electronic toys, and one time my sweeper! The thing is every single one of those items worked perfectly before Freddie got his little hands on them. Even if we knew how to put them back together, when Freddie got done with them, they were pretty much done for. Anything that we really treasured we had to hide them where he couldn't find them.

Freddie was a very well -behaved child. We could take him anywhere and people would comment on what a little gentleman he was. And then he started school. For some reason when he got into first grade, all hell broke loose! I would get phone calls from the principal more times than I care to remember. Fred wouldn't stay in his seat and his behavior was constantly disrupting the classroom. In second grade one day I got a phone call from his teacher telling me that in the middle of a lesson about the United States, Freddie thought it appropriate to stand up on his chair, hand over his heart and began singing The Star-Spangled Banner. I asked the teacher what did she do when that happened. She said. "Well, we all stood up, hands over our hearts and sang it with him! How do you reprimand a child for being patriotic and loving his country?" She said that she had a hard time keeping a straight face. The class thought it was cool because they all got to stand on their chairs and sing too.

Freddie was such a loveable kid, but it seemed that trouble followed him. Sometimes, teachers felt bad when they had to reprimand him for something that they just couldn't allow him to get away with in school. They wouldn't be doing him any favors to not teach him how you behave in school. So, they would have the trip to the principal or 10 minutes in a chair in the hallway. (Freddie was in a class for Special Needs Kids so sometimes behaviors that most would know are inappropriate he thought were just fine to do.) One teacher had to keep him in from recess to finish work that he hadn't done during class because he was too busy sitting in the back of the room practicing what he said were bird calls. It made the teacher feel bad later in the day when she was taking pictures off of the walls using a stepladder. So, she didn't have to keep getting up and down, she was dropping the pictures on the floor to pick them up when she was finished. She heard a scraping sound and looked down to see Freddie pulling the waste can along and picking up the pictures and throwing them away. She said no one else would have thought to do that.

I remember a day when he was in the second grade. The principal called me and as soon as I said hello, he said, "Mrs. Palmer, before I tell you what happened I want you to know that Freddie is alive!" OK, this didn't sound good.

He went on to tell me that after lunch the students were taking their turns to use the restrooms. Freddie had a paperclip which he opened up to make it straight and then stuck the end of it into a light socket. Sparks and smoke came shooting from the socket. It knocked out every computer and the electricity in the whole school! The principal had been at a meeting across town when he got the phone call and had to rush back to the grade school. When he got there the fire department and the police were also there. He said the only thing that must have saved Freddie from getting electrocuted was the fact that he had on tennis shoes with rubber soles. He said when he saw Freddie, he didn't know whether to spank him or hug him. He picked the latter. He asked why he did that. Freddie said he just wanted to see what it would do.

As he got older, his behavior at school continued to get him in trouble. When he was in the 4th grade his behavior got so bad that they started letting him out of school half an hour earlier than the rest of the school kids. Even though I or their dad picked the kids up from school every day, Fred could still find a way to get into trouble between the school door and my car sitting in the parking lot.

One day, I was asked to come to the school for a meeting about Freddie. When I got there, three teachers, the principal. and the guidance counselor were all waiting for me in the conference room. As I walked in and saw all of these people, I felt like I was walking into a lynch mob! I knew each one very well. I worked Fun days on the last day of school every year. I helped out in these teacher's classes when they needed some extra hands. For God's sake, I was the Abominable Home Room Mother! But, now here I was feeling like I was backed up against a wall and the natives didn't look very happy. My heart was pounding. Sitting at the table, they took turns giving me the rundown of the havoc that my son was causing at their school! Yep, they were talking about MY SON! And right now, I was pissed! I managed to keep my cool. They had already decided among themselves that Freddie would start going to school only half days. They were concerned that maybe a whole day was too much for him. So, he would be dismissed every day just before lunchtime because that was about the worst time of day for him.

As I sat there partly in disbelief and the other part of me was so damn mad!! Now, I'm usually a lady at all times but I could feel myself getting ready to explode and as I opened my mouth to speak, the tears started pouring. I looked at all of them and said, "Listen to yourselves! You each can't wait to get to your turn to tell me that my son did this, my son does that! You've all known me for years and how hard I've always bent over backward to try to make your jobs easier by drilling Freddie over and over about how to act in school so he doesn't upset the teachers. YEH, YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT MY SON!! Not about a juvenile delinquent MY SON! This little boy has been to Hell and back during his young life! This child who shows you respect every day by referring to you as Yes, mam and yes, sir! I'm not saying that you should let him get away with things, but maybe there is a way to help him. Think about what this little boy has gone through. He was given away because nobody wanted him! So, he went from foster home to foster home. How do you think that little boy felt with no mommy to kiss him good night! Wondering if Santa Claus will know what house, what town he is in each Christmas Eve. You tell me he does this and he does that. I know it's upsetting, but doesn't he do ANYTHING RIGHT? I AM TAKING FREDDIE HOME WITH ME RIGHT NOW AND I AM NOT BRINGING HIM BACK UNTIL I FIND A WAY TO FIX HIM FOR YOU PEOPLE!"

With that, I walked out of the room straight to Freddie's classroom and took him home. Getting into the car together, I looked at my little boy with my heart about to break. I smiled at him and said, "Hey Buddy, how about we go hit up Dairy Queen?" And that's what we did. I needed something to calm me down and of course, nothing does that for me except a hot fudge sundae!

Sitting here recounting this, I can feel myself getting mad all over again and the tears forming, just like 39 years ago. I guess I let them know not to mess with my chicks! I tried hard to teach my kids the right way to behave. I did everything I could do to help keep the teachers pacified. However, short of going to school with Freddie, I could not make him stay in his seat at school from my house! They all knew that I worked midnight turn and slept during the day while the boys were in school. So why is it necessary to call me at noon (which would be like my middle of the night) to wake me up when they knew I would be at the school parking lot by 2:30 p.m. sharp? (I wonder how the principal would react if I called him in the middle of the night and tell him, I'm awake! Let's talk now) It's not like they hadn't ever come out of school and straight to my car before! Actually, that was an embarrassment when they did that because the entire school knew us too. (More than once when I was talking to someone, I was asked what happened because they saw the principal come to my car) But, anyway, if you mess with my chicks, I'm not backing down. They had a right to be upset with his behavior, but their behavior wasn't any better!

As I said, I knew every one of them personally that was in that room that day. Later in the evening, Freddie's teacher called to see if I was okay. While we were talking, she was telling me that whenever Freddie got in trouble, the next morning, she would always find a note left on her desk apologizing for his behavior the day before. Then she spoke two sentences that changed Freddie's life forever. She said, "You know, Freddie is about the most well-behaved student you could ever ask for in the mornings, but I don't know who comes back from lunch because this Freddie is not the Freddie that I send down to the cafeteria."

BINGO! BINGO! BINGO! A lightbulb went off in my head! Being a nurse, I asked her what kind of milk do they give the kids at lunch? She said they have a choice between white or chocolate milk. (And what kid asks for white milk when they could have chocolate?) Desserts at school was probably a piece of cake or cookies that probably had colorful icing on them! Chocolate milk has caffeine in it. Any cookie or cake with icing probably has artificial coloring in it. Heaven knows what else they serve with artificial colors or flavorings!

Note to self: No chocolate milk at school.
No food from school. Pack a lunch every day
No caffeine -- chocolate, tea, coffee, pop
Pop without caffeine: root beer, Sierra Mist, 7-UP Ginger ale
no juice unless 100% juice! Some brands say right on the label, 50% real juice!
No preservatives

Now I had a plan! I took him to the doctor the next morning to see what he thought. He ordered lab work, to begin with, just in case he had something going on that might alter his behavior such as diabetes. He also agreed with me no caffeine, no artificial colors, no sugar because it could be making him hyper. I went online to find out what things would be all-natural to give him.

Next, I went to the library to figure out how I could make things colorful but not hurt him. I found zillions of recipes I could make." My next stop was to meet with the Nutritionist at Children's Hospital.

The nutritionist spent time talking to me about artificial flavors and artificial colors. She told me to read labels faithfully. Sometimes, things we all eat have artificial stuff in them that would really surprise us! I actually picked up a package of marshmallows (I don't remember what brand it was, but it actually had artificial blue coloring to make the white color whiter! Go figure!)

If you read the labels, you'll find different brands that use natural herbs to color things. Turmeric, beta-carotene, and Annatto are all-natural. Turmeric is used for dark yellow coloring; beta-carotene is for orange colors and Annatto is lighter yellow. (you can buy American cheese at the Deli counter that's colored with Annatto. Beet juice can make a red color. You can be creative with fruits and vegetables that you can cook and mash-up for colors. Sometimes the water you can boil them in will be colored enough to use for coloring. If the label says red 6 or yellow 5. blue 4 all are artificial colors. In other words, if you see a number of any kind, don't chance it. Those are like poison for a kid with food allergies!

We cut out all preservatives. Everything I bought had nothing artificial in it at all. We stopped going out to eat because I could control what he was eating at home easier. I even baked our own bread! (Hey, look at me being Suzy Homemaker here! LOL However, I refuse to wear the dress and heels while I'm cleaning the house) I figured he could eat spaghetti because tomato sauce is naturally red on its own. Pasta has no color added to it. Thank God he liked peanut butter! I baked all the cakes from scratch and even made my own icing. I made peanut butter cakes and peanut butter brownies. I found a replacement for chocolate. I bought him carob from the Health food store. Payday candy bars are natural. I learned more and more facts about artificial flavors and colors every day! (psssst, I made my own noodles too!)

I started him on this all-natural diet. In fact, we all went on the diet. We found that Freddie's behavior improved by 100%!! Little by little I would try something different on him to see if his behavior would change at all, but we had to go slowly and test anything new one at a time so if he had a reaction it would be known what it was. I found if he got yellow dye, he would start acting goofy. Like he was slap happy and his left eyelid would turn red. At the roller-skating rink, I let him have popcorn not realizing the butter they put on it had yellow# 5. Within half an hour he was acting silly out on the floor then finally falling down and laughing hysterically. I pulled him aside and told him what he was doing. He couldn't realize that his behavior had changed. He told me to hurry and get him out of there. Once he was aware that something was wrong, he wanted out. If he ate something with red or blue dye, both of his ears would turn bright red and he was very angry!

If by chance I had to buy something that he couldn't eat, whatever it was I would put a big X with a black marker on the package. I have to admire that child's honesty. He knew not to eat anything from any package with the black X. Most often if I bought something that he couldn't eat, I always made sure to buy something just as good for him so he never felt left out. We did figure out early on that he could eat sugar until the cows came home and it never bothered his behavior at all.

We tried to keep him from going out and eating the wrong thing. I told him that if there was anything that he was really craving to let me know and I would find some way to make it from scratch. That's how I learned how to make pecan rolls. By the time I got that one batch finished I told Freddie that I hope he enjoyed them because I was never making them again! (As it turned out he could eat pecan rolls!)

As time went on, I would try something new and we would see if he had a reaction. We finally were able to start eating out again. Freddie learned what he could eat. The biggest thumbs up were when we were able to add pizza to his diet!!

Freddie's baseball team, (seventh through 12th grade) had a chance of coming out as the number one team of the season if they won the game tomorrow night. The coach told the team that if they won, he was going to take all of them to Burger King after the game. Fred asked me if I thought there could be a chance that maybe he could go with the team. I told him he could go but that I would find out what he could eat without any problem. So, the next morning I called Burger King to talk to the manager about what we could be sure he could eat. I want to tell you this manager was a real sweetheart and dug out ingredient labels to check things out. We came up with: A whopper with lettuce, tomato, and mayo, French fries w/ catsup and Sprite or a vanilla milkshake. The team was totally excited! They won the game and off to Burger King they went! Fred got home around 10 pm. He was excited that had made it through. It was late so he went off to bed. Around 3 a.m. Freddie came to my room to tell me that he had thrown up all over his bedroom and he didn't feel very well. Poor kid, it wasn't really that bad. It made him sick only because he hadn't eaten this kind of food for this diet worked only because Freddie stuck to it faithfully.

If his friends were having a party, they would call to ask me what he could eat and they would plan the refreshments around that. PTO sponsored the sixth-grade dance and the person heading up the refreshments called to see what Fred could eat. His friends were extremely supportive. My homemade cakes were a hit and I was baking a fresh cake every night for him to take to school and they would eat the whole cake at lunch.

Fred's behavior was such a success that one of the teachers at the school had a son who was always in trouble too. She called me to ask for Fred's diet. She started her son on it and it helped a lot, but he would sneak things to eat, which messed up the diet. I had teachers and other people call to ask for the diet to help their kids.

The diet not only helped Fred's behavior, but it also helped him with his school work. His IQ jumped ten points! The doctor said the allergies kept him from focusing but with the allergies under control, he was able to pay better attention. He said it was like having a bad cold with a stuffy head and you just can't concentrate.

When Freddie started the diet, he was in the fourth grade. From the day he started the diet until graduation, I never received another phone call from the principal except for the day the called to tell me that Freddie had been voted unanimously for Student of the Month. He said it was the first time that the vote had ever been unanimous.

One day when Freddie was a senior in high school, he and I were riding in the car. Out of the clear blue, he said to me, "Mom, you saved my life!"

"Yeah. that's my boy!

Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

Author Notes
When Freddie came to us, we new knew that he was a little slow. He did test imto the EMR range (Educable Mentally Retarded). Acedemically . Just a few points but physically and socially he was right on target. When he started the diet that's what where he wwas academically. After being on the diet for a while, they tested him again and his IQ had risen 10 points!! So, then he tested into the Learning Disability range. That sure was better! We also knew that Freddie's family's medical history. There was a big history of Huntington's Disease. Huntington's Disease is a neurological disease where the brain is dying little by little. What ever part dies takes away that ability from the motor skills. It's a very ugly disease. it began with taking his cognitive reasoning away. After high school graduation he immediately got a job. He went to work for a couple of weeks and then he was fired. Freddie during high school, he worked in the kitchen of the nursing home where I worked as a nurse. He had worked at McDonalds for two years. His boss always prided Freddie as an excellent employee. At the nursing home, I was often complimented on what a nice young man he was and an excellent employee. He got along well with the residents ad they all seemed to like him. Anyway, he decided he wasn't going to go to work for a few days and then he wondered why he had gotten fired. He found a job at a ar wash but got fired from this job too for not going to work. I told him to try working at McDonald's again where I knew he would do better. He came to me one day and told me that he couldn't work ar McDonald's either. He said they would tell him to do this, this and this in that order. He said he couldn't remember in what order it was supposed to be done and he had to keep going to ask again and again so he quit because they were going to be firing anyway. They let him quit instead of firing him so it wouldn't look as bad on his work history. Being a nurse, I was afraid that it looked like the beginning stages of Huntington's. So, we started to see a neurologist and he needed for Fred to get a couple of tests run. When we went back to the next appointment, the doctor said it was confirmed that he did have Huntington's Disease. He said when the brain is dying, it can cause a lot cognitive changes such as him not bothering to go to work and wondering why they fired him. The doc said to him it seemed perfectly fine to skip work. He also said that Freddie had had the disease since age16. He started having continuous jerky movements, severe enough that he would fall easily and needed a electric wheel chair, One evening he called me on the phone and asked me how to go about planning his funeral. That was pretty hard to handle but I told him to call the funeral director at a certain funeral home and just tell them what you want. I wanted to say not to worry about that, but I couldn't because we all knew he was going to die. It's a very slow death. I knew that eventually that he would be unable to swallow so I sat him down and we talked about the decision of having a feeding tube put in place. He was very sure that he did not want a feeding tube no matter what. We had to eventually put him into a nursing home because he could no longer live alone. When the time came that he couldn't swallow and they asked me about a feeding tube, I did tell them no. One of the hardest thing to do. But I took some comfort knowing that he would get sicker and die so why would we want to keep him alive to get sicker and sicker. Freddie knew what was gong on right to the end. One day while I was sitting with him and he couldn't talk at the time, but I was telling him that when he got to Heaven he would be able to meet his mother. He was taken away before he was a year old for neglect. But eventually they realized that the neglect was caused by her going into the stages of Huntington's. We were all with him when he took his last breath. I wished him a wonderful trip. I also knew that the first thing he'd tell the Lord would be, "I'm Hungry! Got any mac and cheese? I'm sure he has made quite a reputation in Heaven with his funny jokes and entertaing everyone with that contagious laugh.
That's my boy! Freddie.
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