Her holiday dress is perfect. Her smile lights up the stage. She curtsies after every song. But can my daughter keep her ADHD in check through the entire holiday show? I'm a wreck waiting to find out...
by Sarah Kaczmarek
I should be able to enjoy her Christmas program. I should be able to snap photos and applaud wildly without worry. I should, but I can't. Because my daughter has ADHD.
Hadley looks adorable in her craft-fair-purchased Christmas dress. She curtsies after each song. Everyone laughs when she belts out the songs and waves at the audience. She shines on stage and makes me laugh so hard I want to cry, but still that nagging voice plays over and over in my mind: "Please, Hadley, don’t get too wild. Your teacher will come on stage to reprimand you in front of everyone."
Keeping in mind my daughter's ADHD, her teacher has placed a piece of tape on the stage to mark where Hadley should stand. Good, a visual reminder to keep her from dancing around, I think. But the fact that she is placed at the end of the front row in case of an emergency removal situation does unnerve me.
Equally unnerving is my first glimpse of Hadley on stage – in a headband and necklace. Oh, no! Not after the teacher sent a note home this week to stop with the accessories -- the hair bows, necklaces, and earrings that cause too much distraction in the classroom. How did I forget to remind Lenny of this?! Due to an overlapping commitment, I wasn't home to get her dressed for the show. Now I feel as though I’ve single-handedly sabotaged her attention.
Other little girls’ moms match sparkly holiday accessories to glittery dresses. I try desperately to hide the beautiful little distractions, hopeful that someday a barrette will stay put for more than 5 minutes. This is no easy feat with a 6 year old who absolutely loves dress-up, princesses, and Fancy Nancy. How come my friends can wear fancy jewelry and I can’t? I don’t yet have a good answer.
Hadley begins fidgeting -- flipping her headband back and forth about half way through. My eyes dart to the teacher. Would she take it away in front of everyone? I'm holding my breath and wondering how many more songs remain.
"Please Hadley, just hang on."
She finally quits the headband flipping, but I can tell she is getting wound up. With every round of applause, she is becoming more animated. She is dancing, jumping around, singing louder and louder – in other words, having the time of her life. But I’m so preoccupied with worry that she’ll be yanked from the performance that I can’t revel in her joy. When two other girls are removed for not keeping their hands to themselves, I am secretly relieved that it’s not Hadley and that maybe I’m not alone.
Then, just like that, the show is over and Hadley is bowing like the little star she is. She is radiating – so happy and so proud. Maybe I could take a lesson or two from my daughter, who lives in the moment and sucks every drop of joy out of every moment. She is not worried. She is not preoccupied. She is a little girl singing at the top of her lungs. And, after all, it’s just a Christmas program, Mom. Geez.
When every day is a challenge, it’s easy to become fixated on the ADHD obstacles standing in our way. But if I do, I just might miss the moments when Hadley vaults those barriers with a curtsey and a smile.