A mom works to accept that when it comes to making friends and interacting with others, her teenage son is more lone wolf than social butterfly.
by Amanda Driscoll
It was about a year ago that I was in tears one night with the persistent thought, "What’s wrong with my kid now?” swirling around in my brain. The trigger was that my oldest child, my most severely ADHD one, had decided that he no longer wanted to play his beloved team sport. Then, when his middle school social committee hosted the first dance of the year, he balked at the idea of actually attending it. When I suggested that it would be fun because he could talk to a lot of people his own age, he looked at me like I had 14 heads. His facial expression conveyed a strong message: “Why on Earth would I want to do that?” That was an absolutely foreign concept to me, the overgrown teenager who missed dances and formals and team sports.
You see, I am a people person. I love to be around people. On many days when I was a stay at home mom, I’d pack the baby up in her car seat and head to my local coffee shop or grocery store just to experience contact with other people. My love of communication and social interaction is what has drawn me into my volunteer work. Being able to meet new people and spend time with those I’ve befriended is something I truly adore. If I had my way, I’d have dinner parties at my house every night, simply so that I always had plenty of people (over the age of 14) to talk to.
My son, on the other hand, is, well, just not that into people. It’s another facet of his ADHD that is a complete enigma to me. After 13 years of struggling to decipher the social cues that would help him learn how to interact appropriately, he’s essentially thrown in the towel and decided that it’s just not that important to him. I realize he’s not alone; a lot of kids with ADHD struggle with their social skills. Years of battling his impulses to blurt out and be the class clown have taken their toll on him. He puts up with the six hours a day of forced social interaction called middle school, but volunteering to spend more time with kids his own age in the form of team sports and dances just isn’t going to happen.
While I’ve cried over this, I believe that I am finally in a place of acceptance. I’m a people person, but my son isn’t. We are completely different in that regard, and it’s okay. I think that I am finally okay with this. His ADHD may hinder his ability to interact appropriately sometimes, and that’s something I’m committed to working on. We’ll practice these very important life skills, but I won’t count on him signing up for football next fall or begging me to take a carload of friends to the next dance. While it might sometimes make me sad that he’s a lone wolf, I’m working hard to appreciate that this is just one more thing that makes him unique.