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    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Living in ADHD World

    I forget that other people don’t live in ADHD world. 

    It’s a shock to encounter someone who seems to have no experience with “Look! Shiny!” thought patterns and actions.

    When my kids were little, a successful outing was one in which I didn’t end up abandoning my full shopping cart to chase them across the store dodging people and displays while yelling, “Stop! Wait for Mommy.” 

    So when we visited a beauty supply store and Monkey set about rearranging cardboard price signs on the store’s barber shop chairs, well, to me that was minor.

    The clerk checking me out said, “Have you heard of Super Nanny?”

    I said, “Yes, I’ve seen the show.”

    With a straight face, she said, “You should call her.”

    I turned around to look at my kids, “Really? I thought things were going well.”

    It’s not that I allow my kids to be destructive. It’s not that we don’t talk about respecting others and their property. And hey, sometimes they do mess up. They’re kids. They break things and need to apologize or help fix them.

    But here’s where I think my philosophy differs, especially from a traditional child-rearing mindset.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to touch things. I don’t think it’s wrong to be loud in certain situations. I don’t think it’s wrong to talk about farting. To let your silliness hang out sometimes.

    In our house we deal with some really hard issues. If you follow this blog you know my son struggles with anxiety and it’s been a crushing weight at times. When you face dark monsters like Anxiety, or Autism, or Special Needs, you learn not fear Messy, Loud, and Rambunctious.

    Yesterday I took my eleven-year-old to band instrument selection night. Monkey has an amazing ear for music and could carry a tune before he could speak in full sentences. We would love to see him use the gift he’s been given and enjoy making music.

    But we had a bit of a bumpy start last night. Our number was called and we walked over to the auditioner who stood by a table of instruments. Monkey immediately ran his fingers over an oboe. We sat down, talked with the man, then Monkey got to try blowing into a trumpet. Since we’d also expressed interest in percussion, the guy notified one of the band teachers that Monkey wanted to try out for that, then he told my son to go wait in line while he talked to me.

    Monkey walked away and the auditioner turned to me.

    “I’m concerned with how he would treat the instruments.”

    I didn’t know where the comment came from. “What do you mean?”

    The guy explained that brass instruments are delicate.

    I still couldn’t follow. It’s not like Monkey would sword fight with a trumpet. I said as much, and then it dawned on me.

    “Oh,” I said, “you’re worried because he touched the instruments when we came over.”

    The guy nodded. “He’d have to learn to listen to the band instructor.”

    Well, of course he would, along with every other kid experiencing band for the first time.

    I wasn’t angry and this man wasn’t mean, but I did wonder how he came to be in this position and still be unfamiliar with kids like Monkey. Kids who learn with their eyes, ears AND hands. Monkey wasn’t disrespectful or destructive. In my book, he’d done nothing wrong. But this guy saw “irresponsible” written all over him.

    Photo by Sander Spek
    We moved on to the percussion test where Monkey’s hands-on approach didn’t faze the instructor. He remarked on Monkey’s ear, recommended private lessons to get ready for band, and offered encouragement. We left excited about percussion.

    I recognize that organizing brand new middle-schoolers who’ve never played an instrument into a band is a Herculean task, and I admire and appreciate the staff dedicated to it.

    Raising kids is a Herculean task as well. We don’t all do it the same way. As moms it’s easy to be hard on ourselves when we’re confronted with an attitude toward child-rearing that’s different from our own. We second guess ourselves.

    Maybe I should’ve stopped my kids from rearranging the price tags on the chairs in the store. Or maybe it was okay to be happy that we got through an outing with my sanity intact.

    Maybe I should’ve warned Monkey not to touch anything last night.Or maybe it was okay that my attention was focused on helping my son discover his gift of music.

    Our family lives in ADHD world. Some things we fight for and some things we let slide. We apologize when we’ve done wrong, but we also give ourselves grace when we can’t help but chase the squirrel.

    How about you? What world do you live in? How do you handle it when aliens come to visit?


    Jennette Mbewe said...

    Loved this post! I have a four year old, and people have said, "feel sorry for that one's mother". I have thought about getting a shirt: don't judge me, I choose my battles. Or something like that.

    At this point we've been limited in alien exposure (I strive to go grocery shopping by myself. Ha!) but sometimes I take people's words to heart (I'm not blind, I know I've got issues too ha!) and then, either because I'm a woman or haven't had any chocolate in awhile, I cry. Can't help those blasted tears.

    Still, I hope that I can be more like you in holding on to the meaningful things like Monkey discovering his gift for music rather than getting bent out of shape at my child to force him to behave in a way that pleases others because I'm afraid at what they might think of me & my "parenting skills". Grace, balance and keep on keeping on. Thanks for the great post!

    Jennifer ♥ said...

    I think you're doing a great job with your kids ♥

    Shannon Lawrence said...

    I live in ADHD World, but it's my own (in case you haven't noticed that when dealing with me, LOL!) My daughter is also an oooh, shiny girl, though, and I try to cater to that while worrying that she will have a hard time of it because of her differences. I have a phrase I tell people when I drift while they're talking (it happens): "I forgot to be listening." Because sometimes listening is work, not because the person is boring, but because there are so many other things begging for attention.

    I'm glad you guys left excited about percussion. You wouldn't want Monkey to have to deal with the brass guy, anyway. If someone makes an immediate assumption, they usually stick with it, whether it's accurate or not. I hope he loves it!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

    We live in the food allergy world. Definitely different from ADHD. I hope Monkey has a fantastic time with percussion. One of mine is totally tactile, and would have gravitated the same way.

    Beth K. Vogt said...

    I used to tell my kiddos "Look with your eyes, not with your hands."
    What a good mom I was, right?
    Except one of my kiddos is totally tactile. (We talked about this the other night.) She's an adult now and to this day she's all about texture and touching material -- JoAnn Fabrics is h-e-a-v-e-n for her.
    You are a tuned-in, good mom who understands her boys. Brava!

    D. Gudger said...

    I live in ADHD world. Me. Not my son. Even as an adult I have to smile politely at the person who sneaks up on me and holds down my silent bouncing knee as I sit in (fill in the blank). The annoyed stares when during a conversation I see the shiny thing, or have a random thought I must catch before it escapes. Organization? Don't even get me started on that one! But here's the kicker... I have learned to see and use my ADHD as an advantage. My mind is never void of ideas. I coach teenagers in color guard and cn out energy them all. I have endurance.

    And here's a word of encouragement to you as a long time professional in Marching Band World... The BEST band members, percussionists, color guard members and BAND DIRECTORS are ADD or ADHD. To master the simultaneous skill sets required, a student with ADHD has the great advantage. Band is where these kids become the stars, the section leaders, the cool ones, the envied. Hang onto that.

    Avid Reader said...

    I really appreciate that you address hard issues with your kids. My son is 2 and something isn't quite right with him. He was in speech therapy (the only word he kind of uses is no), but we were informed that the therapist can't do another thing with him until he has occupational therapy. That was a wonderful feeling ...

    He doesn't make eye contact very well and when I talk to him I feel like there is a wall that just keeps us from connecting. But, in-between the times he is yelling at the top of his lungs, bouncing his toys off the floor as hard as he can, and running as fast as he can through the house, he is amazingly sweet, gentle, and cuddly.

    Right now the “aliens” are not allowed to graduate to the 2nd grade class for Sunday school because he doesn’t have a very good sense of self preservation and the teachers can’t be expected to keep him safe. :-(

    Autism and apraxia are terms that have been thrown around at therapy, but he is not old enough to diagnose. I’ve been so worried about him. My constant prayer is that I'll be able to talk to him about Jesus someday and get a response. I also pray he will be happy and self-sustaining.

    This post was a good reminder to just love and enjoy him and let God worry about the big stuff. He knew what he was doing when he gave us this wonderful angle baby and He loves him more than I can fathom.

    ChatterMommy3 said...

    I'm currently searching the www for something to explain my own son age 4.8.
    This has been helpful and eye- opening.
    He's definitely a busy guy, boundless energy, a tad anxious, and delayed potty training. It's hard when the doctors don't have answers so us Moms and Dads need to be our own investigators.