Following Lee

I won’t miss another spontaneous moment with my impulsive daughter — I've decided to let her ADHD be my guide.
Mom Is the Word | posted by Jennifer Gay Summers
The moon rising over hills

If only I could put away my fears and follow.

“Mom, follow me!”

Lee scrambled up a narrow dirt path that led to a steep bank to the top of a hill, across from our house. It was starting to get dark and my fears emerged. Would I slip in my light canvas shoes? If I did make it up, how the heck would I make it down? What if our dinner burned on the stove? I shook my head and waved. “I can’t do it, honey. I’m going back in the house.”

When I walked into the kitchen, I thought, I’m such a wimp. Lee goes from ground zero to the top without giving it another thought, like a billy goat using instinct to guide the way. If only I could put away my fears and follow. But my thoughts never turn off, my cautious hesitation is a stark contrast to her impulsive nature. As an adult, I know responsibility has made me less spontaneous, losing out on precious moments with my daughter. After 14 years of raising a daughter with ADHD, I know the dangers of her impulsivity, and the price we paid. In pre-school, both Lee and I got time-out in a parking lot when she stole Clifford the Dog off another kid’s lap and caused a riot during circle time. In elementary school, I rushed after her up and down supermarket aisles as she pushed our cart with abandon, knocking over displays and narrowly avoiding angry customers. In sixth grade, we had to make the mother of all apologies when Lee got fed up with being bullied and punched a boy. She cried afterward, regretting the punch.

On the other hand, her impulsive nature led to treasured moments that will remain with me forever. A few years ago, we were hiking on a trail in a state park, when Lee spotted a lizard and chased him off the trail.

“Be careful, Lee,” I yelled, slipping down the hillside after her and landing on my butt beside a creek.

“Watch this, Mom,” she called, as she skimmed a rock on the water. A blue jay squawked overhead, and Lee looked up. Then, she motioned for me to follow. The next thing I knew, she was scrambling up a rock wall bordering the creek and into a child-size cozy cave, hidden among the rocks. I shook my head, amazed. Who else besides a blue jay would have spotted that cave? She looked down at me with a big smile and shouted, “This is the best day ever!”

Thinking of that smile, I turned off the burner and opened the front door. A full autumn moon was just cresting the sky and a small girl sat below it on a dark hill, legs crossed, watching it take its place among the stars. I took a deep breath, slipped on my hiking shoes, and called out, “Lee, I’m coming,” letting impulse be my guide.

 
 
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