I can spend hours quietly thinking things through, trying to find an elusive insight that I know is there. I need to concentrate and work the puzzle from all angles so I can see the picture and make sure all the pieces fit. That’s my nature.
Then there’s Joe. He’s a child with a lot going on. His mind is never quiet; it darts and races and conjures. His body is rarely still; it fidgets and flops. He always has a personal soundtrack playing—yammering, nonsense sounds, clanking and clunking on things. That’s his nature.
His energy drains mine. Yet his open and honest spirit inspires me.
The other day Joe wasn’t feeling well and stayed home from school. Even sick, Joe motors so I didn’t object when he disappeared upstairs for a while, and I was able to get some work done in quiet. I went right from the computer to a quick run to the market and then to preparing and cleaning up dinner. I hadn’t been upstairs since he’d hung out up there, no doubt in my room with the TV on.
Eventually, I sent Joe up to get ready for bed. It took repeated prompting to get him there, so I was frustrated when he appeared back at my side.
“Joe! What are you doing back down here?”
“Well, um, you know when I was upstairs today? Well, um, I was in your room and I, um, well… .”
I knew what was coming. We’d covered the territory and my resulting dismay many times before, so I helped him say it.
“You pulled all the covers off my bed again.” He drags everything to the floor, including the sheets, and wads them up in a tangled ball.
“Yes, but I was on the floor and I was cold,” he quickly defended. How can a mom get mad at a kid for trying to survive in the cold, right?
“Now, Joe, how did you think I was going to feel about that?”
“So why would you do something that you know full well I’m not going to be happy about?” I was pleased with my even tone (even a little surprised by it) and thought my logic trail was dead on. Surely he’d have to acknowledge his choice was not a good one.
Then without missing a beat, and while twirling, he responded, “Well, it’s kind of like your heart beating. You do it, but you don’t even know it’s happening. It’s involuntary.”
I know he is smart enough to work me, and I know there are times he tries—even succeeds. But I also know there was no angling in that response. It was simply his honest insight—the same kind of insight I spend hours trying to reveal.
At 11 years old he is aware and has accepted that he’s an ADHD kid with a propensity for impulsive behaviors upon which he acts without thinking, without pausing to consider whether the impulse will land him in trouble—again. The impulses are just as much a part of his being as a heartbeat or breathing is for the rest of us.
The concept is difficult for many to accept, and even I find my awareness of it can drift from the forefront of my consciousness. I have to remind myself, or have Joe remind me, of its reality. Still, I am a witness to the growth that can occur and the hope that it brings.
Joe is learning what it means to have hindsight. He’s starting to understand that with the benefit of distance between an impulsive urge and its unfortunate result, he can objectively see the flaw in his action. He’s even starting to take responsibility.
When I finally made it upstairs to confront the wadded bed clothes, what I found warmed my heart. There was a patchwork of sheets and blankets spread across the bed. My pillow was fluffed, and my little man was sound asleep in the space next to mine. When I spread a blanket over him, he roused and I thanked him for putting the bed back together.
“You’re welcome,” he said. “Besides, it’s only right. I messed it up; I should fix it.”
Related posts: adhd behavior problems, adhd symptoms, General ADHD, parenting/FAMILY, Tammy Murphy, Tammy Time