Guest Blogs

ADHD at the Dinner Table

Sitting is the worst torture we could possibly inflict on this child with ADHD — but Nat did just great.

Last summer, my attention deficit parenting skills failed the Natalie Challenge on a trip to celebrate Don’s parents’ anniversary. The test: an upscale restaurant dinner. The judging criteria: arrive on time, everyone in clean clothes, Natalie’s 7 p.m. medication in hand, activities to keep her happy at the ready.

I failed on every count.

We did it again this year to much better results. So much better, in fact, that I’m ready to embrace this as a nearly-worry-free annual event.

We had a long (looooooong being the key word to my child with ADHD), leisurely, delicious dinner with Don’s parents, his brother Gary and wife Sandy and their two daughters, and Don’s sister Julie, at a jewel of a restaurant — the Tuscan Moon in Kalona, Iowa. Natalie did just great, with her brother, Aaron’s help, and the help of her cousins Karlee and Haylee, until the last 15 minutes or so. I couldn’t have been prouder.

Nat was exhausted by the time we drove to our hotel at the end of the evening. She was upset that Aaron got to stay at their cousins’ house with the rest of the family to play poker, but she had to go to bed. She cried, and complained.

“That was boring! I hated that! All we did was sit!” she blubbered, nearly incoherent with tears and tiredness. Sitting, of course, is the worst torture we could possibly inflict on this child with ADHD. (She apparently forgot that she got to swim in Karlee and Haylee’s backyard pool after dinner, and that Aunt Julie jumped in with her clothes on!)

Then came the line that killed me: “I like action! I like action!” She repeated this over and over. I praised her for “using her words” and expressing her feelings so accurately; for behaving so beautifully in spite of how hard it was.

“I like action!” Her insight was so perfect, I just had to laugh.

I only hope that I’ll end the evening laughing when we do this again next summer! Get ready, Tuscan Moon: Natalie’s coming — and she likes ACTION!

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