How quickly my happy, playful ADHD child morphs into a growling, furious creature when we enter the vicinity of unsuspecting strangers in a quiet auditorium.
Aaron will be in sixth grade next fall, and his middle school orientation was last night. I really wanted to be there with him, but taking Natalie to events like this — noisy, crowded — and expecting her to tag along quietly is asking for trouble. So, the plan was that Don would take Aaron to the orientation, and I would stay home with Natalie until Gayle, her in-home therapist, arrived. Then I’d join Don and Aaron at the middle school.
Gayle arrived to an idyllic scene: Natalie and I smiling and laughing, jumping on the trampoline together. As soon as I tried to say good-bye, Nat fell apart.
“You can’t leave! I need you! I’ll miss you!” Nat said, arms wrapped around me so I couldn’t climb down from the trampoline.
“How many kids does your mom have?” asked Gayle.
“One!” Nat answered.
“No,” Gayle said, “She has two. You have to share mom with Aaron. Aaron needs her too.”
Nat’s anxiety escalated. She bounced around on the trampoline, growling, throwing herself into the safety net.
Gayle and I decided we’d all three go. Natalie could stay with me as long as she was calm and quiet, Gayle would watch her in the hallway or outside if she wasn’t.
We parked at the middle school and started to walk in. Gayle and I walked, that is. Nat ran ahead. She kicked off her flip-flops and... ”NATALIE! YOU APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW!” One flip-flop hit a dad as he walked toward the school.
Inside, we found the parents listening to a presentation in the auditorium, while the soon-to-be 6th graders toured the school. I slid into a seat near the back. Nat wiggled onto my lap, grabbed my head between both hands, squished her nose up against mine, and whispered gibberish furiously into my face.
Within seconds I was up, passing her off to Gayle. Gayle took her out to the hallway, but before long, she charged back in... ”Shhhhh!”... I passed her back to Gayle... she charged back in...
I heard about 3 minutes of the presentation, and I never found Don and Aaron. I went home frustrated, tired, irritated, and feeling guilty. I let Aaron down again.
“That was an eye-opener,” Gayle said. To her, maybe. To me, that’s Natalie! That's life with ADHD.