I’ve been late for my daughters’ school conferences before; no way was poor time management going to trip me up this time.
by Douglas Cootey
Have you noticed that your ADHD penchant for careless mistakes increases depending on how rushed, panicked, or tired you are? There are times when an adrenaline rush gives me laser focus, but every once in a while — OK, fine, frequently — I miss a beat. Where I notice this most is when I quickly scan text when I’m in a hurry. Then I’m more likely than not to misread something.
I like to look over my calendar the night before and see which appointments are scheduled. I try to put them in my short-term memory so that I plan them into my day as I move through it. That's why I was so surprised to notice the alarm for my 11-year-old’s parent-teacher conference.
What? It’s right now? How did I miss this?
Then I turned into the Tasmanian devil and swirled in a blur around my apartment and whooshed out the door. I navigated rush-hour traffic like Lightning McQueen through London’s streets and pulled into the parking lot of the school on time.
I ran up to the door and practically pulled my shoulder out of its socket when I yanked on a locked door. “That’s odd,” I thought. All the doors were locked. I saw movement inside, so I knocked on the door and shouted for attention. A high school kid, who worked as a part-time janitor, opened the door and let me in. He was just as puzzled as I was, but I didn’t have time to talk with him. I dashed through the door, ran through the halls, and made it to the classroom a few minutes late.
The teacher wasn’t there. I found her in another meeting with the principal and half a dozen other teachers in a different room. It turns out that I was a day early to the conference. You would have thought the locked doors and missing teacher were clues, but my iPhone told me the meeting was that day.
And there I was worrying that I’d be late.
Apparently, the alarm I saw was the day-before warning. Again, the word “tomorrow” should have been a clue, but I was in a rush and didn’t pay attention.
I don’t have any advice to give on this one. I’ll probably do it again, or something just like it, within the next 24 hours. The important thing is to keep a good sense of humor about it. I could have felt stupid, but I laughed it off with the teacher and joked about being early. She laughed, we said our good-byes, and we got on with our evenings.
Next time I’ll double-check my alarms to make sure I don’t get worked up over nothing. I also made sure I was on time for the actual meeting the next day — if 10 minutes late can be considered punctual.