That Boy is My Heart

Oh, the exquisite pain of motherhood…the love so deep that even the passing thought of something marring the perfection of our child’s life feels like the squeeze of a garlic press to our maternal hearts.  We want to give them an easy time in life, to prevent the boo-boo’s, not just kiss them away.  I feel this way for each of my kids.

But one is special – I can’t pretend otherwise.  My 15-year old son Clark is ADHD.  And that boy is my heart.

For those of you that are parents of young neuro-atypical kids, some of your most raw moments are yet to come.  I don’t say that to minimize the challenges you have already faced, and there are many in the early years.  But the middle school years, oh my, the middle school years, those are the ones that bring a mama to her knees, at least from my experience.

Some of you may read my blog, Road to Joy, and, if you do, you know that I write fiction and humorous narrative nonfiction.  Clark is the subject of my funniest pieces – he is an endless source of hilarity.  If you want funny, go back over to my blog, click on the ADHD category, and read some of his exploits.  Today, I am skipping “funny” and getting to the heart of the matter.

Middle school sucks.

I thought it sucked when I was in middle school, and I am not only neuro-typical, but I excelled in almost every way imaginable, so I don’t know how it could have been any easier for me.  Yet it still sucked.  Kids at this age go through so many hormonal changes and self-doubts.  Social interactions take on a whole new level of importance.  Peer relationships are everything.  Young boys begin to mature, physically and emotionally, albeit more slowly than the girls.  They become braver, bigger, stronger, and rougher on each other.

My neuro-atypical sweetheart of a son hit middle school like it was a brick wall.  His slightly “off” behaviors – which his family “gets” and loves – combined with his random outbursts and seeming-emotional insensitivity pushed peers away.  He had very few real relationships outside the family, despite our determined facilitation, which, after a while, felt like forcing him to endure torture.  The insensitivity others saw is not unusual for a neuro-atypical child.  Those subtle cues about the things that are OK and not OK to say and do whiz right past the ADHD, the Asperger, and the Autistic kids.  Clark missed those cues just like he missed cues on homework and chores.

Clark loves football, theoretically.  Seriously, he is a student of the game, a strategist, a potential coach someday.  But playing football?  He tried.  It turned out to be impossible for him in middle school.  So did lacrosse.  His teammates had become more focused and aggressive.  Focus?  Physical aggression?  Ummmm, I don’t think so!  Not with my ADHD middle school son.  Clark would stand in the middle of the action, in awe, watching it all from the best seat in the house.  [Good news: high school is going much better, and he has taken up his beloved football and lacrosse again, after sitting out in 8th and 9th grades]

And as the other kids became more daring, Clark stayed mired in his unexplainable fears.  His fears were so large that he couldn’t express them – only the size of his pupils let us know he was not just being stubborn, he was terrified.  Roller coasters?  Not on your life.  Snowboarding?  Nope.  Skateboarding?  Didn’t work out so well.  You get the picture.  The list is long.  All the “boy” stuff.

So what did he want to do?  He wanted to retreat into his fantasy world, he wanted to be on the computer.  He had “friends” there to play games with.  He could succeed at his games.  He was the hero.  He was the warrior.  Total immersion was his goal.  We kept pulling him out, and pulling him out, and pulling him out.  The separation made him angry, sometimes really angry.  If he couldn’t have the computer, he would stay up all night reading fantasy books.  Sure, we’d catch him and turn off the lights several times a night.  But he still woke up in a daze the next day, tired and even less ready to face the perils of middle school.

We stayed the course with the various treatments our providers were recommending – I’m not going to blog on that today – and we made it through.  Life at 15 is far better than life at 13.  It may have taken a few years off my life though, all those clenches on my heart by the garlic press.  I shredded, I healed, I shredded again.   I am a mom; I can take it.

Why do I share this with you all, now?  I think foreknowledge of challenges empowers us to face them, for one.  For another, I want you all to know that it does get better.  Maturity does help.  New challenges pop up, like, oh my gosh, how can I ever let this child drive a car, how can I put him and others at that risk  knowing how many “signals” he misses?  Or … how can I trust him not to medicate with drugs and alcohol, when they may make him feel like all his sharp edges are softly, wonderfully rounded off?  Or how can I keep him from killing himself in some crazy accident even I can’t predict when he tries something that the rest of us would know was insane, yet seems logical to him?  Ugh.

Yet, ADHD kids grow up and become happy and successful people.  I know many of them.  I hear from many of them.  Clark will.  Your kids will.  And, sometimes it will hurt like hell, but you will survive, too.

Hang in there, Mom.  Middle school will come, and it will pass.  Hug that special child tight and know that one of the blessings God has given him or her to balance the challenges they face is a resilience the likes of which most of us will never know.Pamelot

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes the Clark Kent Chronicles on parenting ADHD wonder kids, thanks to the crash course given to her by her ADHD son and his ADHD father. Pamela is the author of the book The Clark Kent Chronicles: A Mother’s Tale of Life With Her ADHD & Asperger’s Son, and many others, like How To Screw Up Your Kids and her bestselling, award-winning Katie & Annalise mystery series, led off by Saving Grace. Visit her blog, Road to Joy, where you can buy her books in any form, anywhere. Pamela is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship, as well as her husband and kids. Like Clark Kent, she also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

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Related posts:

adhd and school, classroom accommodations, General ADHD, school failure ·

About the author

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes the Clark Kent Chronicles on parenting ADHD wonder kids, thanks to the crash course given to her by her ADHD son and his ADHD father. Pamela is the author of the book The Clark Kent Chronicles: A Mother's Tale of Life With Her ADHD & Asperger's Son, and many others, like How To Screw Up Your Kids and her bestselling, award-winning Katie & Annalise mystery series, led off by Saving Grace. Visit her blog, Road to Joy, where you can buy her books in any form, anywhere. Pamela is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship, as well as her husband and kids. Like Clark Kent, she also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.

17 Comments

  1. Penny: Thanks for the opportunity to post to your wonderful site. You are awesome. This blog and your Facebook page are an incredible service and community for all of us who have kids that don't fit the neuro-typical mold.

    Reply
  2. Scott Fulton says:

    What a wonderful mom. Thanks for sharing Pamela!

    Reply
  3. Erin says:

    Even the title of this post brought tears to my eyes. I think, because it perfectly sums up how I feel. Things that should be so easy and carefree (and are for siblings, neighbors, friends, cousins) are so complicated for my boy. If I let myself get caught up in it all I can really bring myself down. But he needs me. So I (try to) keep my head up and tackle each day and situation as it comes. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone.

    Reply
  4. Nothing like a mother's love; thanks for sharing! Clark is a VERY lucky young man to have you in his corner and advocating for him. 🙂

    Reply
  5. i just found you today, from the Additude magazine.. about A.D.H.D. my son has neurofibromatois and a.d.h.d… I have tried diet… and nature and sturcture.. and the dr. has written me a script in hand and I am so scared.. and confused… and angry and tired… Can we talk via email.. eatmywords40@yahoo.com my son is 5. and about to start K. I will read more of your blog.. tonight…
    so glad I found you.
    Lisa- I too have a blog
    http://nf1andpre-kwhisper.blogspot.com

    Reply
  6. Rob Grissom says:

    Thanks Pamela for such a great article. We to have a son that is ADHD. What has really helped other than my own ADD experiences is hearing others confirm what we are seeing in our son. Now I know I am not going nuts.

    Reply
  7. Just as soon as I said it gets better when they are older, Clark mowed the lawn in flip flops in the rain today. 🙂 Oh wait, that's just because he's a boy.

    Reply
  8. devon says:

    I have an 8yr old son that was diagnosed with ADHD this last year and he was put on Ritalin (5mg 2x daily) and it has helped tremendously.
    I wish he was more scared to do things; we have the opposite problem, he has NO fear of anything. that is scary!

    Reply
  9. :) says:

    My son is starting MS this year. Your words so touched me. I am so in the garlic press. Thanks for being real.

    Reply
  10. dmd says:

    Simultaneously reassuring and frightening. I feel like my son is a book but I want to check the end to make sure it turns out okay.

    Reply
  11. Linda says:

    I love your post. I found your site from Marissa on Facebook and eager to read more of your posts. I have an oppositional ADHD son going into 3rd grade. I truly dread the teen years and feel like I am hanging onto the roller coaster seat waiting for the ride to stop. I would love for you to stop by our ADHD Support Group for parents and give advice to the rest of us!

    Reply
  12. Linda: Thanks! Sorry, I just saw your comment. Shame on me for not checking back (excuse: I thought it would notify me, oops). The teen years are a roller coaster, for sure. I will stop by your group — thanks for letting me know about it.

    Reply
  13. 🙂
    I'll be thinking good thoughts. How has the start of middle school gone?

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  14. dmd, great analogy. Trust that it is a happy ending 🙂

    Reply
  15. Thank you, Rob, Heidiopia, and Scott!

    Reply
  16. Devon, that is scary, when they have no fear of the consequences. I find Clark has no fear in situations where he does not “see” the consequences. However, he does have a lot of anxiety as well. It's an odd combination.
    I hope the medication helps your son!

    Reply
  17. Jen says:

    What a great read and perfectly timed at the end of an(other) overwhelming day with my 13 yr old ADHD (inattentive) son. I think I always thought that things would get better and a little easier as he got older but these last couple of years have had some very difficult and perplexing moments. I'm so glad I found this site and am looking forward to reading more of your pieces for inspiration and support!

    Reply

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The "ADHD Mommas" are not medical or mental health professionals, nor an ADHD coach. Any opinions shared here are just that, opinions. I, and the other "ADHD Mommas," are sharing our experiences with our own ADHD children. Please do not re-post or publish any content or photos without a link back to {a mom's view of ADHD}. Have the courtesy to give credit where credit is due. Copyright protected. All rights reserved.

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