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?