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Jitter Bug

I’ve decided to use this column to solicit help. Consider this an S.O.S.

My child has ants in his pants.

Mike and I have known this since, well… since birth. Actually, I knew this when he was still in utero. The kid has never sat still. He fidgets, he repositions himself, he claps and snaps and sings. There is just a constant stream of noise and movement coming from him at all times.

At home, we just learned to live with it. Honestly, I tune it out. Most of the time.

His constant moving and jittering is most noticeable at bedtime. The kid just can’t settle down. He tosses and turns and rolls. He needs help fixing his blankets because they get so tangled up in a ball that he can’t smooth them out.

When he sits at the table, he often sits on his knees and then complains that his feet fall asleep, so we are constantly telling him to sit correctly.

We got an email from Mikey’s teacher last week requesting a phone call “to discuss some things we are working on.” During said phone conference, she told me and my husband that our 5-year-old is having trouble sitting still. In particular, he has trouble sitting on the carpet when they gather around for a story or lesson or roll call… or whatever.

Her exact words were, “He melts like butter” once he sits down on the carpet. She said he immediately sprawls out and lays down, rolls around, picks at a loose thread, kicks his legs. When she prompts him, he sits right back up, but not a minute later he has melted back into the carpet.

She said there are a few comfy chairs and other seats that are offered to some of the students “who have trouble sitting,” and none seem to work for him.

Apparently she was so perplexed by this phenomenon that she contacted the school’s occupational therapist to see if it could be a “trunk problem.” I think she means she was worried he might actually have a problem with is tail bone that is preventing him from sitting.

No. The problem is not his tailbone. The kid just doesn’t sit still. So… What do we do about it?

Could it be his diet? Maybe he’s getting too much sugar or red dye or whatever the heck they’re blaming behavior problems on these days? While he doesn’t always have a breakfast of champions, he’s not gorging himself on sugar, either. Sometimes he has mini-muffins, other times he has bacon or a banana. Whatever it is, it usually isn’t much because he doesn’t like to eat first think in the morning.

And for lunch he religiously eats some combination of cucumber slices, strawberries, a yogurt drink, popcorn, pretzel sticks or squares, peanut butter cracker sandwiches… I’m sure I’m forgetting something. He generally refuses to buy lunch, and whenever we send something in a hot container, such as hamburger, hot dog, pancakes, chicken nuggets – you name it – he says it’s gross by the time he gets to it and it comes right back home.

If I ever get him to eat a sandwich I’ll go buy a mega-millions lottery ticket.

Could he be overtired? We shoot for an 8 p.m. bedtime, and even then it’s forced because he is still going strong at that time. And he’s up and ready to roll between 6:30 and 7 a.m.

He gets plenty of physical exercise! He does soccer on Saturdays and swim on Thursdays and sometimes a ninja class on Sundays, and as long as it’s at least 40 degrees outside he’s playing on his swing set, riding his bike, playing basketball…

What else could be making him “melt like butter” all over the carpet at kindergarten?

Now, my mother will tell you I’m being punished by having a child exactly like I was. She said I never sat still. Apparently my grandmother used to yell at me to stop fidgeting, to no avail. She said I grew out of it and Mikey will, too.

So my next question is: How long is that going to take?

If you have any anecdotes, I’m all ears.

Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at


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