My grandparents grew up never even hearing about ADD or ADHD. My mom probably didn't hear much of it either. I began hearing about it in high school, and through college, when people would quip "Oh gosh, I just get so distracted, I have ADD, hahahahahaha." And that's what my experience has been until having Davis. People in my generation talk non-stop about it like it's this quirky cute thing and I have found that artists and creative types even wear that label as a badge of honor...like "I'm not boring- my mind is just wandering on to more interesting things."
OR, in my early days of being a parent, you would hear so much media and press about the world over-diagnosing their kids with ADD/ADHD and how it's purely a product of an over-stimulated society, driven by technology and multi-screen experiences.
And then I had my own kid with ADHD. And I feel like the whole thing is largely misunderstood. I go back and forth between telling myself "You're so lucky your kids are healthy and there aren't any major issues" and that is certainly true, but I also hear my inner voice occasionally saying "Shit Sam. This is hard. I don't know if this is what it is like for most families and parents."
And let me first say that Davis is a joy. He is kind and tender and smart and creative. And he wants to please others and be kind. Honestly, if he didn't have ADHD, I don't believe he would ever get in trouble. He does not WANT to get in trouble. Holden, if we're honest, is the one who loves trouble. But Davis is constantly in trouble- or if he's not in trouble- it's because you are constantly monitoring him in the way you would with a toddler. And I realize more and more, that that is because of his ADHD. Lately, I feel like I am realizing, or maybe simply acknowledging, what a real thing this is and how hard it is for Davis, and honestly, how hard it is for us.
It is mentally exhausting. And I don't want to bitch, but honestly, it is. I realized how difficult, when Bennett was golfing for 8 hours the other weekend, because I reached a point where I just felt miserable. Like I couldn't handle being alone with my kids for another minute more- like I had reached my breaking point- and I thought "This isn't healthy..." and "This isn't how I want it to be..." and of course I felt so guilty for feeling that way. So, I asked myself why I felt that way, and I realized that it's because there is nothing relaxed about most of our unplanned time together. Unplanned time is difficult with Davis. Weekends can be very hard work. Harder than my job, more trying than Davis' job, and I mean, our jobs are pretty damn demanding.
If you can imagine, all day every day, having to repeat everything you say at least 5 times, to get the most simple task done (like putting on shoes) or if you can imagine having every comment or plan you make being challenged, 100 times from start to finish, you get a glimpse of what our days are like.
Imagine knowing that when there is silence, for even a moment, something is being broken, wrecked, misused, misplaced, etc. and you might have a slight understanding of how impossible it is to ever relax.
Anticipating the fight that comes with each meal, knowing that there is no easy or enjoyable food-related situation unless it's peanut butter and jelly or chicken nuggets. And the judgment and guilt that comes with that.
Picture promising things, small things, and repeating yourself 10 times per promise to make sure he feels comfortable with whatever it is that is tripping him up- "Yes Davis, I will tell the people at the airport that the darts you have are rubber and are not dangerous?" "Do you promise?" "Yes I promise." "But do you promise, mom?" "Yes, I said I promise Davis." "So you're sure you will tell them that?" "Yes I'm sure." "Because I'm trusting you...okay mom?" "Yes Davis. Okay. I will tell them."
Or if you can imagine watching someone who loves his sister so much, continue to break her things, push her impulsively, make poor choices, while hearing your daughter cry about how mean he is to her- you know the heartache of knowing how frustrating it is for your daughter and how misunderstood your son must be, every other place he goes. He adores her. These aren't things he WANTS to do.
The feeling of getting together with new friends is overwhelming. The thought of explaining everything to new teachers, or camp leaders, or babysitters, is riddled with anxiety.
And then when you lose your mind with it and you think "JUST STOP ACTING THIS WAY!" and you hear your six year old sob about how he doesn't want to do those things, he just doesn't know how to NOT, you also know the heartache and the guilt that comes with feeling frustrated with him at all.
And then. You get over yourself. And you imagine being him.
My mom asked how Davis was the other day- and honestly all things considered- things are going okay. But I'm starting to realize our okay is not normal. Our okay requires a lot of work. And it's tiring. And some days it feels like that work just never ends. And that...that is the truth (to me) about ADHD.