Four seconds. That’s the approximate range of forward thinking our teenage ADHD/Asperger’s son can engage in. There are obvious problems with this present focus, like the inability to envision future consequences of actions in the here and now. This makes the Clark Kent in the present think he’s invincible like Superman, right? In fact, that’s what we have always called our boy: Clark Kent.
Clark Kent landed a summer job as a lifeguard. Last weekend he was in two days of lifeguard training. CK stayed with his dad the night before. CK’s father Edward is also ADHD. I sent the instructions to Edward and CK two days in advance, including a link to information about the site, the address and directions. I didn’t connect the dots, cross t’s, and dot i’s about it, thinking, “It’s Edward’s time, and he’s a responsible adult.”
Well, it didn’t go well.
For starters, neither Edward nor CK actually looked at the address or directions, because lifeguard training was scheduled outside the four-second window. CK did not set his own alarm. Edward got CK up at a time that would have worked beautifully if the pool were next door, but didn’t work so well for a pool 40 minutes away from his house.
Edward sent CK off to the training, to which he was (quite) late. Without sunscreen. For a nine-hour day in the sun, the first day in which CK would have sun exposure on his shoulders, chest, stomach, and back since last summer. CK is a white boy. A very, very white boy. Casper-y white. Or at least he was.
Now, he looked like an oversized tomato.
On day two, Edward pulled it together and sent CK with mega-extra-strength sunblock. But you know what they say about the horse and water, right? CK decided to just wear a cotton t-shirt instead; the hassle of sunscreen was far greater than the likelihood he could see of further burn, at least within his four-second window. Unfortunately, cotton t’s don’t do much to stop the damaging rays of the sun.
Now, he looked like an oversized, over-ripe tomato. His sunburn was so bad that even with aloe vera and acetaminophen he couldn’t sleep.
Yes, all of us from time to time forget sunscreen or don’t want to put it on. From time to time. But for someone with the inability to appreciate future consequences, something as simple as a day in the sun can become much more. It is a foregone conclusion that your ADHD’er, like mine, believes he is Superman, and Superman never gets a sunburn.
Clark paid dearly for it. Edward was racked with guilt. I’m hoping these issues continue to improve with maturity. Meanwhile, I just bought the extra-large size aloe vera at Wal-Mart.