Our ADHD/Asperger’s teenager is the nicest person in our family. We call him Clark Kent the WonderKid, because in his heart he believes he’s Superman. Remember what a nice guy Clark Kent was? It makes me wonder if he had ADHD, too.
Not that Clark is only nice because of ADHD. Far from it. But I think his present focus gives him a leg-up on the rest of us. Why? Because Clark forgets. Nevermind forgive, we all do that. The rest of us, though, hold past hurts in our present thoughts. Clark doesn’t. If it wasn’t within the four-second window he lives in on either side of the present moment, then it’s over for him almost as if it never happened.
He’s not just able to forget. He’s also kind. Last night my husband Eric asked Clark to do a few favors for him: get cash, get ice and pack it in a cooler, and get gas, all because Eric was exhausted and needed to start his work day at 4:30 a.m. again the next day.
“No problem,” Clark said.
Off he went to the gas station in Eric’s car, He got the ice. He got the gas. He got the cash. He came home, he returned my credit and ATM cards. He gave Eric the money.
As he left in his own car to take his girlfriend home, Eric reminded him, “Put the ice in the cooler in the back of my car.”
“No problem,” Clark said.
He left. He came back at 8:30 p.m. He declared the jobs completed. All was right with the world. By then, Eric was fast asleep.
The alarm went off early. Eric scurried around getting ready, happy that he didn’t have to stop for ice or gas and got the extra sleep the night before and this morning. I kissed him goodbye and crawled back in bed. He set the house alarm, and went out the door.
One minute later, the door re-opened. Then it closed. Then it re-opened again. And closed. I wondered what he forgot.
Half an hour later, my phone dinged. Text. Ding. Another. Ding. Another. Between the three, they said:
I’m not mad, but Clark parked behind me last night so I had to move his car before I could leave. Then I got here and discovered he didn’t put the top on the cooler, so all the ice is melted. I don’t have time to get more so we’ll have to drink hot drinks all day while we work outside climbing towers. Sometimes helping is not helpful, but at least he had a great attitude about it.
Ugh. I felt terrible for Eric. I was unhappy with Clark. At 16, we expect more follow-through. But why should this job be any different than homework, chores, or any other task that he loses focus on before he finishes? More importantly, what would we do differently with him next time? Ah, that I could answer:
- Remind Clark to make a list
- Ask Clark to repeat the tasks back verbally
- Think just a little harder about the stumbling blocks for and with Clark
- Talk him through the tasks after completion
- Double-check his work
Wow. Sounds like way more trouble to have Clark do it than to do it ourselves. Sometimes. Maybe, yes. However, this was a missed opportunity to work with Clark to reinforce the skills his parents and counselor have coached him on over the years, and possibly to expand them a bit as well.
So, another day in the Clark Kent Chronicles, in the good-with-the-bad of ADHD. The nicest person in the family? For sure. The rest, well…um…did I mention he’s the nicest person in our family?