My Saving Grace: People Who Get That I Have ADHD

When my daughters constantly remind me about keeping track of the car keys, I am thankful—not defensive.
Family Guy | posted by Douglas Cootey
ADHD Forgetfulness: Thank You for the Reminders

“Do you have your keys?”

I swear, she asks me every time. Every. Single. Time.

I shut off the car, get out, and my youngest asks me in panic, “Do you have your keys?”

Hey, give a dad a break already! There was that one time that I locked the keys in the car. OK, maybe more than one time, but how many years ago was that? Yet she panics.

Truthfully, I appreciate the reminder. I haven’t needed it yet, but I’m glad she’s there to save me from myself. Saying adults with ADHD are forgetful is like saying the sun is slightly warm. Our minds are a kaleidoscope of thoughts sometimes, each one vying for prominence.

When I pull into a parking spot, I’m not thinking, “Turn car off, take keys, lock door…” I’m thinking, “OMG, I’m 15 minutes behind! OK, milk, OJ, um, what else? Crud, I forgot to take out the trash. No, think! Why didn’t I write this down? What else? Trash bags! Right! And then the library. I’ll finish my article there. Wow. She’s pretty. No, wait! Milk, OJ, and what again?”

That I remember to shut my car off and take my keys along when arriving is a miracle. I can honestly say I don’t have that problem anymore. I wish I could say the same about bringing my wallet when I go shopping.

My daughter is learning disabled and processes things differently than others. She may panic because I locked us out of the car years ago, but she doesn’t judge and condemn me. When I lift the keys in the air and wiggle them dramatically, she sighs, “Good.” She doesn’t mutter, “Good, because you’re such an idiot.” This is key to our happy relationship. Daddy needs the reminders, not the reprimands.

Adults in general feel that they shouldn’t have to remind somebody of things that are obvious. After all, being an adult means being responsible. Unfortunately, sometimes I need a reminder to make sure I follow through. All the to-do lists and alarms in the world may fail me. When working with people who expect you to remember, or worse yet, expect you to read their minds, friction can occur. Relationships can tank. Self-esteem becomes non-existent.

We can’t do much about the unreasonable people in our lives, but we can try to surround ourselves with people who get that we are forgetful and don’t take it personally. They may become irritated from time to time, so cut them some slack, but overall, they are the helpful ones who are precious beyond value.

My daughters have a certain tone in their voice when they remind me—a tone filled with irony as they feel the roles have switched—but they still respect me. My friends, too. I believe it is because of the following things:

1. I educate them about why I’m forgetful so that they don’t take it personally.

2. I take responsibility when I let them down, and try to make reparations.

3. I thank them profusely when their reminders help me.

4. I thank them when they remind me, and this is key, even when I don’t need it at that moment.

We can’t expect people to read our minds, can we? They won’t know when we are hyperfocused one moment, but frazzled the next. Also, we need to be responsible for remembering as much as we can. Surrounding ourselves with helpful minders who don’t mind reminding helps greatly. Every time my daughter asks about the keys, I respond to her graciously. The day I start snapping at her in defensive pride is the day I lock us out of the car because she didn’t dare remind me

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