Impulsivity & Hyperactivity

Expletive Not Deleted: My Son’s Blooper in Dance Class

Sure, ADHD causes impulsive speech. But sometimes when kids with attention deficit misbehave, they’re just, well, being kids — and this mom can swear to it.

To say we were strangers in a strange land is an understatement — my seven-year-old son, Edgar, the only boy as far as the eye could see, and me, the decidedly and historically ungraceful mother of three sons, sitting patiently waiting for his first dance class to begin.

He spied a young girl with an iPad and darted over to where she was playing on a bench. He watched her play and controlled his hands, exerting impressive effort when it was clear he wanted to touch the iPad and join her game.

I smiled to myself thinking how far we’ve come in such a short time since starting medication for my son’s ADHD. Hour-long dance classes are now a possibility, as is sitting contentedly watching someone else play. He stood by her side and stared at the screen, rejoicing when the little girl did well at her game, offering an encouraging word when she didn’t.

I let my guard down and allowed myself to bask in the glow of this moment…until the little girl’s game took a turn for the worse, and my son said, within earshot of all the mothers and all their little girls, their little ballerinas, “Oh, sh*t!” Except that there was no asterisk. There was no mistaking it.

As a writer, I choose to share aspects of my family’s life with the hope of making my children’s paths in life easier. It is my wish that every time I write about adoption, or my son’s epilepsy or ADHD, I am helping to dispel stereotypes and correct misapprehensions.

The only drawback is that when our family is in public, the potential for reinforcing stereotypes and misapprehensions is real. People who know us, or know us through my writing, realize that my sweet seven-year-old boy has ADHD. When those same people hear him utter an inappropriate word, I wonder if they attribute it to his ADHD.

I find myself feeling protective – not necessarily of my son (though there is that) but of his condition. Because the truth is he didn’t utter that word because he has ADHD. He said it because he heard it from his older brother, who had heard it from someone else. Any child — with or without ADHD — would have been, could have been, as apt to have said it.

Sometimes it is a challenge to tease out what is ADHD and what is childhood — and what is simply going to be a very funny story years from now.