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Jilly Gagnon Headshot

Diagnose Your Kid's Neurosis!

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Parents have plenty to worry about these days, like "how many years before the intended birth of my child should I sign him or her up for the right preschool?" and "since my child will clearly be a model conservationist, which bars the possibility of consuming red meat, dairy, or anything pre-packaged (and thus tasty to children), and since the verdict's out on soy estrogens, how exactly do I manage to feed him/her without causing crippling anemia?" and "is raising a child in a world run by the military-industrial complex and riddled with swine flu really moral at all?"

I could go on and on, but on the top of every good parent's list of things-to-obsess-about is clearly what sort of minor disorder your child is afflicted with, and how, if at all, you can help them overcome said disorder, or at least milk it later in life for the best college essay Princeton has ever seen.

With this handy guide to frequently self-diagnosed neuroses, not only can you pinpoint what maybe, possibly, lots-of-news-stories-you-googled-tell-you-it's-scary is afflicting your child, but you can find which pill or technique can best medicate/sedate/expatriate that child so s/he has the best possible chance of success!

AD(H)D: A diagnosis of AD(H)D is easier to get than a prescription for pot in California; so why not get one for your kid? Assuming s/he does need the help focusing, then consider it a preemptive strike; assuming s/he doesn't, well...what better way to learn about economics and entrepreneurial skill than navigating the market for extra Adderall pills?

Dyslexia/general learning disorders: Is your six-year old not all that interested in reading yet? After weeks of a strict video-game regimen, with occasional stops for hockey practice, did Junior somehow only scrape out a C on the history test? Shocked to find out that Susie's failing math, especially since you know she's learned quite a bit about fractions; she's always talking about picking up a fifth here, an eighth there - she's a math genius, dammit! Clearly any otherwise-unexplained poor performance like this is due to a general learning disorder, or maybe dyslexia (after all, Bobby did used to write his name with what looked like "d"s back in preschool...). Hire a tutor, or, better yet, force your school to hire one for you, free of charge, with vague threats of future legal action!

Antisocial Personality Disorder (aka baby-Bundyism): Your pets are mysteriously disappearing and your five-year old is capable of telling you s/he knows nothing about it, believably, to your face, though you're fairly certain that the blood on your little Joanie or Jimmy's t-shirt wasn't really from a fall on the blacktop. I mean, who scratches their nipples, anyway? The only profession s/he's shown any interest in is dentistry, and then only after seeing an old Looney Tunes reel with a buzzsaw and jackhammer heading straight for Bugs' mouth. And s/he's still wetting the bed...then burning the evidence in the morning. Until s/he learns to polish up that preternatural charm to a perfectly-believable-mimicry-of-humanity sheen, s/he may have a disposition only mom can love (you just don't KNOW him/her! S/he didn't mean to poke your child in the eye over legos! It was just...an accident...for the twelfth time this hour...), but don't be fooled - just because Anthony Hopkins talked about Chianti once doesn't mean that your little sweetheart is necessarily going to be all refinement and intellect. Medication? Nothing so far has managed to manufacture a conscience and/or empathy, but stock up on old Law & Order and Dexter DVDs to prepare yourself, your little lamb(slayer), and your legal team, for the road ahead.

OCD: Think of it this way: most parents have a real hell of a time trying to get their kids to bathe and not eat things off the ground; all the time you'll save not fighting those battles will more than make up for however long it takes to go back and turn the light on and off 36 times...but that time wasn't right, another 36 should do it. And if s/he's looking a little tubby, make sure you plant that seed of self-doubt early - with just the barest bit of luck, it will blossom into a teenage eating disorder that will guarantee a great figure for all those high school dances and/or casting calls (hello vicariously relived youth!) Oh, fine, fine, there are multiple different treatments that can help relieve the painful and distressing symptoms of OCD. I was just trying to help your family in these troubled economic times - after all, think how much you can save each year if you cut out your cleaning service and the 'kid' portion of the grocery bills...

Anxiety Disorder: Sweetie afraid of spiders? Sometimes get nervous when forced to speak publicly? Have trouble sleeping the night before a big test at school? Same here, and let me tell you, just implying this to a doctor can get you, I mean your kid, your kid, some really good drugs, Fear and Loathing good. On the other hand, if your child psychiatrist is a puss, or worse, a hippie (no, we don't want to learn breathing techniques to help overcome moments of anxiety, thank you very much), it might be hard even wrangling a regular dose of Zoloft out of him or her. On the plus side, no matter how much Valium you are or aren't able to rustle up for your little darling, you'll probably have no trouble petitioning for no-time-limit standardized testing, and, if you play your cards, and implant your Bluetooth devices, right, that means unlimited access to mom googling in the car!

No, really, my child seems normal and well adjusted: Give him or her Adderall, anyway. After preschool the competition really starts biting back, literally and figuratively; make sure your little sweetheart is capable of focusing intensely for unnaturally long periods of time on his or her jaw strength. And of course no one would fault you for making sure your brain is enhanced enough to remember every single play date. After all, learning to share is very important, and learning starts at home...so hand over the drugs, Jimmy! GIVE THEM TO MOMMY!