Listen, write, and focus — all at the same time? That’s asking a lot of this ADHD dad.
by Douglas Cootey
There was a meeting after church. My daughter was going to summer camp, and I needed to attend the parent meeting with her. I was happy that I had made it in time because I was sore from a back injury and my ADHD was bad that day. My focus kept wandering. I was lucky I managed to know which shoe to put on which foot, never mind show up for a meeting with a brain.
The room was filled with a small group of parents and their daughters, including my daughter and me, and two leaders. The hallway outside was filled with friendly voices finishing off the ice cream from a recent social event. Some people in the room were happily enjoying their treat while waiting for everyone to arrive. The leaders wanted everyone to be on the same page. This was the moment to fill out forms and ask questions.
It turned out that we were missing a permission slip. It probably went home with my daughter when she was staying at her mother’s, so they passed another one over to me and continued talking about the trip. I listened, then realized I wasn’t filling out the form, then I missed something that was said, then I returned to finishing the form. I had to decide to finish the form quickly and try to tune out the stream of information. I finished and sat back to listen to the rest of the presentation.
Wait? What did they say? A letter? I have to write a letter to my daughter? What’s it supposed to say? Didn’t I just do this last week? Yes, they said, but this is another letter. Didn’t you receive the email? Oh, give us your address. So they handed me a pad of paper to write my email address down on, then continued to describe what was supposed to be in the letter. I’d write a character or two, then try to tune into what was being said, then come back to finish the address. One of the leaders was standing by me to take the pad of paper back, so I had to hurry. What did they say again? Just say nice things? Oh, I wanted to make a joke then, but I had to finish the email address.
Finally, I submitted all the forms and information that they required. I was ready to listen with full focus, but they had finished. I think I heard enough to make the best of it. I hid all this difficulty from my daughter and let her be happy I was there with her. They said they’d email me the physical location of the camp, plus other information. Maybe I’d finally get to know what they were saying.