This Just In: How I Conquer My Daughter's Morning Moods

Sharing tidbits from the newspaper puts a happy spin on my ADHD teen's grouchy morning mood.
Mom Is the Word | posted by Jennifer Gay Summers
Newspaper, News

Between fatigue and puberty, my daughter's brain is wired for early-morning conflict. I challenge myself to dispel her grumpy mood.

— Jennifer Gay Summers

“Good morning, honey. Your egg’s ready.” I turn from the stove and watch Lee, my teenage daughter, shuffle into the kitchen. Her eyes squint at the bright sunlight streaming into the window, and she slumps into her chair.

Poor child, I think, another sleepless night. Lee is one of the unfortunate 50 percent of children her age with ADHD who has bad sleep problems. Between fatigue and puberty, her brain is wired for early-morning conflict with her mother at the breakfast table. I challenge myself to dispel her grumpy mood and stay calm.

“How did you sleep?” She ignores my question, reaching for the cereal box. I give her the egg and sit across from her, hoping to start the day off on a good note. “Did you have trouble falling asleep?” The minute I say it, I know it is stupid. Of course she did. Her hyperactive body revs up at 9 p.m., restless and eager to move despite the late hour, keeping her awake into the night. My husband and I tried melatonin, lavender baths, weighted blankets, and a body pillow to help her fall asleep, but nothing works.

A storm cloud passes over her face, and she slowly picks up her fork. “Why are you doing this to me?” she says. “You’re so annoying!”

I let out a deep breath and pick up the newspaper, my daily ritual to ease the strain between us and to restore some peace. I start each morning by reading the weather forecast. “A warming trend will continue into the weekend, bringing sunshine to the beaches.” I look up. “Do you want to go to the tide pools on Saturday?”

“Maybe,” Lee says, pouring cereal into a bowl. Her face softens a little, and I ease back into my chair, turning the page.

“Can you read me my horoscope?” she asks, giving me a begrudging, sideways look.

I nod and look for Taurus, the stubborn bull. “You will present yourself differently today than you normally do...” I watch her eyes drift out the window to the clouds as she thinks about the possibilities. Then I turn to the city section and read to her an update on Meatball, the big black bear who wandered into a neighborhood, devouring Costco meatballs from a garage freezer. Captured last summer by animal control, he was taken to a sanctuary, where the 600-pound fur giant now eats his meals off a plate. A big smile lights up Lee’s deep brown eyes, then a mischievous one. She looks down at our little black dog, begging for a treat.

“Who needs a plate?” she says and spears what is left of her egg, then flings it into the dog’s mouth. We burst out laughing and she jumps up, running down the hall, bad mood lifting off her like a kite in the wind.

I know my husband and I will continue looking for ways to help combat her sleepless nights, but, in the meantime, I give silent thanks to the newspaper. It is my ally, my way to cross the mother-daughter morning divide.

 
 
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