Tonight my husband and I dismantled our dilapidated vanity to make way for a shiny new one. Strange as it sounds, I was awash with emotion — a mixture of wonder and elation and the desire to throw my hat in the air while twirling around in the street — as I helped haul the old vanity to the trash.
Believe it or not, that crummy vanity started me down memory lane because it was a fixture in our house while I was raising my three children, all of whom happen to have ADHD.
While growing up, they defined “impulsive.” They were consistently inconsistent, distracted by everything (except video games and computers), and emotionally volatile before their medication kicked in. They were a trio of tornadoes, leaving a trail of unfinished tasks and lost homework.
I appreciated the irony implicit in “attention deficit disorder.” My children have lacked some things, but, believe me, attention was never one of them. As are most kids who have ADHD, mine were brilliant, talented, and charming.
The Wonder Years
My eldest son was tested at age three, and he was found to have the vocabulary of a six-year-old. He was graced with a true gift of gab, an off-the-wall wit, and a sincere, passionate nature. Throughout school, his English teachers and I told him he should be a writer. He filled notebooks with poetry and song lyrics of amazing imagery. It was challenging to discipline him, because he could always make me laugh, no matter how angry I had been.
My middle guy was a man of few words. He had the gifts of curiosity and reflection. When he was 12, I saw him tinkering with something, and asked about it. He said he was making a tattoo gun — out of a tiny motor from a toy car, a needle, and a toothbrush. Not wanting to discourage his inquisitive nature, I didn’t laugh. I also didn’t laugh when, a few days later, I noticed a jailhouse-style tattoo on his arm.
My daughter, the youngest, was interested in everything and everybody. Some call it nosy, but I call it concern. She was fiercely loyal, to the point of starting brawls if a friend or brother was maligned by a classmate. If you were her friend, you could call her anytime. If she promised to do something, you could bet she would do it. When she was four, my closest friend said, “I never worry about her. She knows how to get her needs met.”
When my second husband, Steve the Lion-hearted, entered the picture — a “place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place” guy — he had no idea whom he was dealing with. He held on for a year before he said, “You were right — I’m going to have to lower my standards to survive in this household.” I controlled the urge to say, “I told you so.”
This article comes from the Spring 2008 issue of ADDitude.
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