We have ADHD at our house. Well, technically Clark has ADHD, but he shares.
Sometimes he shares in a good way, and sometimes his pain hurts the rest of us a lot more than it hurts him. Wait, isn’t that what the parent is supposed to say to the child, not about him? Ugh.
Want examples? When Clark was in 3rd grade, I devised a wonderful poster board game for his life. If he completed life successfully that day — no dishonesty and no missed assignments — he would move one space forward. If not, he moved back one. I put tons of “move two spaces forwards” on it, and prizes of all types every few spaces. Some were praise prizes, some were “experience” prizes, and others were LOOT. Clark went backwards. I was shattered. Even my most positive parenting had no impact. (Gee, you think he had ADHD??? This was pre-diagnosis.)
His younger sister was crushed that she didn’t get a game board. We wrestled with it. At nearly six years old, she would slay the game board concept. She would clean up. We would go broke. We finally gave in. Luckily, though, she was young enough that I was able to sneak a simplified, less prize-rich version of the game past her.
The smallest accomplishments in school earned Clark raves. His sisters performed flawlessly with no parental involvement and little fanfare, until we would catch ourselves and over-praise them in compensation.
Clark’s bobbles (daily) absorbed our attention. We were constantly on edge, losing our patience, regrouping, and focusing on coaxing him along. At our worst moments, home would become a tense place to live.
“Duck!” Clark got three zeros today.
“Run!” He stuck his Concerta under the microwave instead of swallowing it.
Another time, Clark swore on MY life that he had brought his medication, after running back in the house to get it upon my repeated instruction minutes before our 5:00 am departure for Christmas break. The family pulled to a screeching halt half an hour into the drive when the adults suddenly realized it was impossible for him to have it with him, still — we quizzed him on where he found it after we remembered it was in our bathroom. We ordered him to produce it. He couldn’t. So, we got to the grandparents an hour late. It wasn’t the end of the world. (I’ll write about medication resistance someday soon.)
The lows may be low, but the highs are higher. And, don’t the idiosyncrasies of each family member leave an impact, not just those of the ADHD child? Our girls are positively bipolar as teenagers, with the requisite drain and drama. My husband has migraines that leave him a blubbering nerve end. I am the only one with no imperfections, in fact.
So, albeit not always gracefully, we expect the “negatives” and celebrate the positives. The biggest impact on our family? He makes us laugh. With him. At his antics. At his wildly creative and zany sense of humor. “I like cheese and I’m a dog” he has announced so many times, apropos of nothing, that as soon as we hear “I like ch…” we scream “NO!” and laugh. He’s just as likely to swing and miss, but when he connects, he’s the funniest one in the house.
He has taught his sisters empathy for their peers, some of whom have ADHD, others with challenges such as dyslexia, and that those kids are probably as smart or smarter than they are.
Yep, we have ADHD at our house. And sometimes we cry. But mostly, we think it rocks.
Until next time,