Water Play

A soaked yard gives this mom a flood of insight into her ADHD son's brain.

ADHD boy plays outside in the water.

Our front walk and the lawn near the driveway were drowning in water.

On the first warm day of the year, my son asked if he could play with the hose. "Sure," I said. "Just don't spray water at the house."

"OK, sure," he said.

Relieved that he'd found a way to entertain himself, I went inside to accomplish a few overdue tasks. Twenty minutes later, I looked outside. Our front walk and the lawn near the driveway were drowning in water.

"No!" I yelled. "Turn it off!" Startled, he looked up from his play. "Turn. It. Off."

"Why?"

"You're flooding the yard!"

My son didn't move, so I walked down the steps and turned off the spigot. "I hate you!" he screamed. "You ruin everything. I didn't do anything wrong."

"You took off the nozzle!" We kept the nozzle attached to the hose. When I'd said yes to water play, I thought the nozzle would limit how much water could come out.

"But you didn't say not to do that!"

"But," I said, and stopped. He was right. Because my son has ADHD, and he is a literal thinker, I knew he hadn't caused the flood on purpose or on impulse. I had said he could play with the hose. I hadn't said he shouldn't remove the nozzle. In his mind, my anger over his flood-making made no sense.

Luckily, the day was warm and the water was soon gone, leaving behind a damp spot on the walkway and a more permanent artifact: a reminder of how my child's brain works.

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This article appears in the Fall issue of ADDitude.
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