My Little Brother Is a Lovable Tasmanian Devil

"Without my brother Chad, our family would be a plain slice of whole-grain toast. With him, we’re a jalapeño bundt cake."
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Siblings of ADHD Children: My Brother Makes Life Exciting Chad, at a rare moment of rest, and me

Claire Zasso, today’s guest blogger, is a student at Biola University in Southern California, but she is a NorCal girl, born and raised. Claire is a self-described extrovert and an aspiring writer, who loves to travel and experience other cultures.

I walked into the kitchen after school to find Chad standing at the kitchen counter taking a test with a stool over his head. The underside of the seat rested on his noggin and his arms stuck out through the sides, wrapping over the legs to write on his paper.

Mom saw me come in and gave me her death glare. I knew what it meant: “Don’t say a word. He said the stool is helping him keep still. Walk straight to your room. I’ll call you when he’s finished.”

This was typical after-school protocol in my house. Because it took Chad four times as long to finish his homework as an average fifth-grader, he needed his space completely silent and free of distractions.

When he was little, his ADHD manifested itself mostly in social settings. He babbled until he was almost three, but when he spoke, his first words were: “More pasta!” Playing with other kids was a challenge. He’d play alone in the sandbox for hours, but he’d get amped up when other kids were around. At two, he earned the nickname “Taz” after the Tasmanian Devil in Looney Tunes. He could zip into any room of the house and put it in shambles in under three minutes.

At 18, Chad’s ADHD and dyslexia still slow him down academically, but he’s much better at making eye contact, respecting personal space, and not interrupting.

Living with Chad has been an adventure. There was the time he flushed Choo-Choo, the plush horse, in the kids’ bathroom and flooded the house. Or the time he poured a Costco-sized bottle of pancake syrup on the kitchen floor, and rolled in it. Mom stood 10 feet away folding jeans, oblivious of what was going on. And there was the time that he yanked the fire alarm at California Fitness and got us banned for life.

Without him, our family would be a plain slice of whole-grain toast. With him, we’re a jalapeño bundt cake.

I learn a lot about people when I introduce them to Chad. He is the ultimate test of a person’s patience and character. He has no filter, never stops talking, and always has an opinion. But Chad is something special. My brother has taught me more about love than anyone else. I learned that love can be tough at times. Love is still listening when you can’t stand another word. It’s spending time with your little brother when you have lots of assignments due on Monday. It’s gracefully enduring accidental insults. And it’s watching season 26 of Doctor Who, even though it’s horrid. Love is uncomfortable, and it’s hard to do well, but it’s so worthwhile, especially when you are always the cool, big sister. To Chad, at least.

Recently, I had the privilege of seeing Chad promoted to Eagle Scout, a rank awarded to only four percent of Boy Scouts. Over 100 people came to the ceremony. Cowboys and cowgirls arrived from the ranch where Chad works. Tutors, teachers, and friends from the homeschool co-op were there. Even Bob from our local Vons produce section brought his wife. I’m not joking. Some of the best people on earth were in attendance that night to celebrate my brother’s achievement.

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