A certain percentage of impulsive ADHD kids are going to try it — touching tongue to cold metal.
by Kay Marner
A few weeks ago, Natalie threw open the front door, excited to welcome her ADHD friend Harry to our house. Let the fun begin! She was greeted by a very strange sight. Harry walked in, with his eyes and mouth wide open, and his tongue sticking out—way out—with fully two thirds of its surface seeping bright red blood.
“Harry! What happened?” I asked. “He’s bleeding!” I said to Harry’s mom, Victoria, as she followed, as usual, at least 50 paces behind. As I ran for paper towels, Harry, holding his pose, turned to show Victoria his tongue.
“Did you bite your tongue?” Victoria asked. Tongue still stuck out—way out--Harry shook his head.
I handed him the paper towels, and guided him to blot his tongue. The blood kept on seeping. I hustled him to the kitchen sink; handed him a glass of cool water. “Swish some water around in your mouth and spit it out,” I said. He didn’t. He plunged his tongue into the glass of water instead, and a mucus-y pink immediately clouded the water. Harry hadn’t altered his expression—eyes wide, mouth open, tongue all way out.
It hit Victoria and I at the same time. “Harry,” Victoria said, “Did you stick your tongue on the door?” Harry shook his head again, and pantomimed a long, narrow strip. “The frame of the window next to the door?” Victoria interpreted.
This time Harry nodded. (I looked for, and found, tiny white raised dots of frozen tongue-flesh on the metal surface several days later!) “Do you need to come home with me?” Victoria asked. Harry shook his head. He wasn’t about to let a mere flood of blood interfere with his play date with Natalie.
The blood eventually slowed, then stopped. Harry finally allowed his tongue to re-enter the sanctuary of his mouth. He babied his tongue with applesauce and yogurt while the rest of us ate supper. Last night, Harry and Natalie were missing each other fiercely, so even though there was only a short time until Nat’s Tae Kwon Do lesson, Harry once again came over to play. Don arrived home from work, and we sat down for a family-plus-Harry meal.
“Harry, this is the best I’ve ever seen you eat! I’ve known you since you were 3, that’s 6 years; but I’ve never seen you eat such a good meal!” I said. Harry suffers more than Natalie from the appetite suppressing effects of ADHD meds, but my compliment led him to reach for seconds. Then, to emphasize just what a feat he was performing, Harry said, “Yeah, and my tongue is still tender from (dramatic pause) that accident.”
A certain percentage of kids are going to try it—touching tongue to cold metal-once. And with their ADHD impulsivity, our kids are likely to find themselves within that elite group. (Or, maybe it was just Harry being Harry!)