I keep bouncing from one bright and shiny thing to the next, blaming my creativity for missed deadlines - I’ve got a lot of nerve getting on my kids about their behavior.
by Frank South
“Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love, a secret my daddy said was just between us. He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then; it’s a love without end, amen.”
- From Love without End, Amen by Aaron Barker, sung by George Strait
Sorry for the long absence. My last ADHD Dad blog post ended with me having just arrived at my parents’ house in Delaware. I was about to pick up the phone and drop the discipline hammer on my 21 year-old ADHD son Harry, who was in Hawaii. I meant to write and post the next part of the story last week, but I was packing to fly home then I was standing in airports or crammed in an airplane seat. I finally woke up from a huge jet lag collapse and have been blinking around at my home that I haven’t seen for three long months.
Okay – excuses, excuses – and yeah, I should have gotten right to it, but instead of writing, I spent the first days back in front of my own computer looking for new desktop icons (one whole day); and reorganizing already organized files; and updating applications I hardly ever use (another whole day). When I was done with that I started untangling a thin gold pendant necklace my wife, Margaret, had left on a shelf near the bathroom sink. I found it while cleaning and avoiding work.
The truth is I’ve been laying back and letting distraction drive the bus. At one point, I pulled gently on a knot in Margaret’s gold necklace and, as it untangled, I realized that this was the necklace I’d given her when Harry was born. The pendant was a multi-faceted emerald, Harry’s birth stone. I don’t normally believe in signs, but this time I made an exception.
So now I’ve wrestled myself back into the driver’s seat, and I’m typing away. But I keep thinking that considering how, especially over these last three days, I’ve bounced from one bright and shiny thing to the next, blaming my creativity for missed deadlines or off-subject meanderings - both of which apply to this post - I’ve got a lot of nerve getting on my kids about their behavior.
Anyway, here’s the Harry story up to now: While Margaret was in L.A., and his little sister stayed at a friend’s house, Harry was supposed to be taking care of our home, hearth and dog in Honolulu and preparing to try college again in August. Instead, against all the rules, he had a drunken, pot smoking party. The dog got lose, girls were throwing up on the front lawn, and they were making enough noise to wake up our neighbors, including the cop across the street.
Margaret spoke briefly to Harry when he called to preempt the neighbor phone calls, but the hammer talk is my job this time. Now Harry’s sitting in Hawaii waiting for my call. I’m angry and disappointed in Harry, but I don’t know what to say to. Since its 5 pm here in Delaware, I avoid calling Harry by making martinis for my parents. I bring the drinks to my mom and dad in their matching wingback chairs along with some crackers and sliced cheese. I like waiting on them. I tell my mom and dad what’s going on and as I get them refills, and my dad especially, has strong opinions about Harry’s misdeeds.
As I close the door to the guest room and punch Harry’s number on my cell, I’m hit by the weird irony of a ADHD recovering alcoholic son serving drinks to his mother and father before calling up his own son to give him hell about getting drunk and screwing up. I stop dialing – I dread the draconian restrictions and restitution I must and will bring down on him. I still don’t know how to get Harry to really learn from this experience.
Then I remember when I dropped out of college. It was the morning after I’d shown up on my parents’ front porch in the middle of the night screaming drunk, waving an empty scotch bottle, and blaming them for everything wrong in my life before I threw up in the bushes. I still remember what my father said to me.
So I punch in Harry’s number again and when he picks up I say, “First, I love you.”