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“Did YOU hear anything BAD???”

That was the question that was asked of me as I asked a man to stop yelling at the bus driver as I got my kids off the bus. Since I wasn’t quick enough on my feet, I didn’t respond. But as I walked with the kids, I kept thinking about his question: “Did YOU hear anything BAD?”

Technically, I didn’t. But then again, that would depend on whose definition of bad we’re using.

A little context, please… Oh yes. One serving of context coming right up.

As I’m getting my kids off the bus, I hear the bus driver honk. Turning to look, I see that my son has crossed in front of a car coming down the road. I yell his name and start after him just as the man in the car is getting ready to drive (illegally) in front of the bus. The bus driver yells.


The man is angry. “I’M 54 YEARS OLD, I KNOW WHAT I’M SUPPOSED TO DO!”

Back and forth they yell at each other, the bus driver in the interest of protecting the children in her care, the man in the interest of protecting his pride.

In the meantime, I have completely lost sight of one of my children and the other is horrified listening to this man yell at her bus driver.

I turn to him, irritated that his irresponsibility has disrupted my normally enjoyable moment with the kids. “Could we just stop? Do we really need to do this in front of the kids?” I say to him. I’m not stopping to chat though, because we’re in the middle of the road, and confrontation really isn’t my thing.

That’s when he yells after me. “Did YOU hear anything BAD?”

I shake my head in disbelief. When I’m home, and its much too late to respond to his question, I think to myself

No sir, I didn’t hear anything bad, if your definition of bad means that you didn’t swear or call names. What I did hear was you being incredibly disrespectful to a woman who is trying to protect children who can’t protect themselves. Sir, if you’re 54 years old, you’re old enough to know how to speak to a lady and admit when you’re wrong. You’re also old enough to know that the safety of children trumps whatever immediate need you have, and that a school-bus full of kids just watched you throw a temper-tantrum like a five-year-old.

Ultimately, the message had little to do with the absence of name-calling and swear words, and more to do with what it looks like to be an adult.

Bad words? No. Bad example? Yes.


Homework Help & After School Activities for Parents & Kids

I just came across this website tonight while searching for homework help for my fifth grader.  I fell instantly in love with it, and had to share it!  Of course, I am a language arts nerd, so if you’re a math guru you might not be as excited.  Nevertheless, it’s chock-full of fantastic ideas to encourage learning outside of school and support parents as we help our children learn the essential skills of reading and writing. 

The site is called “ReadWriteThink,” and you can get there by clicking HERE.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

An Open Letter To The One Who Returned My Daughter

Dear Dr. Bark,

My husband and I would like to thank you, however the words, “thank you,” do not seem to do justice to the overwhelming sense of gratitude that we feel as the recipients of your expertise in treating our daughter, Maddie.

For the purpose of this open letter, I am choosing to include some information here that might appear to be redundant to you, for you already know in great detail the symptoms with which our ten-year old daughter was struggling. However, I feel it important that our readers understand both the severity and depth of Maddie’s symptoms prior to our visit with you.

As you well know, Maddie was a highly medicated child when I first made contact with your office. Your assistant, Sara, spent a great deal of time with me answering every question that I had and formulating a plan to facilitate the best possible outcome. In July of this year, Maddie was taking, on a daily basis, the following medications: Vyvanse, Intuniv, and Singulair. While many people will state that for an ADHD kid, that’s really not too bad in the dosages she was receiving, they were high enough to cause a flat affect and stunt her growth, in both height and weight. This was a small price to pay though, we were assured, for the peace that our family enjoyed, and the excellent marks she was bringing home from school.

Uneasy, uncomfortable, angst, worry… guilt. Those are just some of the feelings I had every morning when it came time to medicate my daughter so that the two of us could make it through the day. On the meds, life was good. Off the meds: chaos. Impulsivity. Inability to focus. Lack of awareness; she didn’t seem to know where she started and ended. She would fight with her sibs for the sake of fighting, and her relationships with her brother and sisters tanked. Grades would slip and A’s turned to F’s, understanding turned to blank stares. This is where we started, and this is where we ended up any time we tried to stop the medication. There had to be a better way.

I prayed. I read. I researched. I vowed to reclaim this beautiful child of mine, a girl from whom I had not seen a genuine smile in months; a girl who would not tell me she loved me. Not that I believe that she didn’t, I just don’t believe she felt it and could say it. I don’t know that she felt anything. Apathy, compliant, flat. That was my Maddie.

I came across your ad in Chicago Parent Magazine. I felt like it was an answered prayer before I had even discussed it with my husband or made contact. I knew that you would be able to help me; that I saw that single ad, the only one I even remember from the magazine was, to me, a miracle.

I will admit that I was skeptical. Everything that I had read flew in the face of what I was about to do. The cost, to us, was staggering though not unexpected. We had to sell some things to pay the fee that our insurance company would not cover, and for six weeks I questioned whether or not I was making the right choice, not because I did not believe in you, but because I did not believe in myself. What if it didn’t work? What if we went broke trying this? What if… What if… What if…

“What if it works?” was the question that we always came back to. We didn’t know, but we had to try. Not just to appease our own guilt, but for Maddie. She did not want to take her medicine anymore. She hated it and would beg me,

“Mommy, please! I don’t want to take it! I like to be able to eat, and please… we’re having my favorite lunch at school today.”

She would frown, and acquiesce. Swallowing those tiny pills, designed to balance the unbalanced neurotransmitters in her growing, developing brain, she would look sadly at me, her pleading eyes questioning,

“Why can’t I just be normal?”

Dr. Bark, we had a difficult summer; I will not lie to you, nor will I lie to my readers. The choices that we made, removing one medicine at a time beginning the first week in July, were difficult because we knew the consequences. We knew the behavior that we were in for; we knew what Maddie was in for. It was HARD.

We had hope though, and after we met with you, our doubts disappeared and we were encouraged. You and Sara were there to support us every step of the way, answering any questions we had, and reminding us that the struggles we were experiencing were temporary. There would be an end to this ADHD medicine, and end to Maddie’s struggles.

There would be Normal for Maddie.

We started to see a new child emerge in mid-August, as the final visages of her medications lifted and she worked through some things that emerged after taking her homeopathic remedy. This child we saw, this daughter of ours, was amazing.

We noticed right away that she had such a pretty smile. At the same time, we realized how long it had been since we’d seen that smile. She began to have conversations with us that weren’t laced with hyperactivity or lack of emotion. She revealed to us in conversation, deep, insightful, meaningful thoughts.

She told me she loved me. Every day. Often.

She started to give the most wonderful hugs. She’s started to eat well and grow. She is maintaining a healthy weight, and no longer resembles an emaciated child. She loves school, and brings home fantastic grades, which she is so proud of! She has healthy, engaging relationships with her Dad and I and her brother and sisters, and she is a joy to be around! And, she is totally off her medications.

We have always loved our daughter, but we knew we had to help her, had to find a way to be rid of the medicines that she so despised. You helped us to do that, and in doing so, you returned our daughter to us.

Thank You.

For more information on the services offered by Dr. Toni Bark, please visit

You can also email or call (847) 869-7740.

You will not be disappointed.

5 Parenting Guest Posts from June

I spent a month guest posting on Jill Crew’s blog.  Jill is the Early Childhood Coordinator for Parkview Christian Church’s Orland Park campus, and she invited me to share my insights as the parent of four young children. 

I had a ton of fun, and look forward to writing for her again soon!

Here’s the link to check out my posts.  Enjoy!