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Just a Tad Preoccupied

Perseverate. This a fancy word that essentially means this: To obsess over and fixate on something, bugging your parents incessantly about it, until finally you get your way or you end up grounded. Does this sound familiar to any other ADHD families?

All week, Jasmine has been talking about her upcoming, season-opening dance performance. Her dance team is to perform mid-court in between each quarter at a youth basketball game. They’ve also been working on some sideline cheers. In every conversation this week, Jasmine has said the following:

“When is Saturday?”

“How many more day until Saturday?”

“I can’t wait for Saturday!”

Then on game day: “It’s Saturday! What time does the game start?”

Her dance performances were freaking adorable. As soon as the game ended, she transferred her fixation to photos and videos of the performances. We hadn’t got to the car yet, and she was already asking Laurie about posting them to Facebook. She spent the rest of that day and the next few days asking for our phones so she could read and reread peoples’ comments. Until it was time to plan for the next game — and the clock reset.

Parents always say things about their kids like, “They’ve been talking about [fill-in-the-blank] for days.” But in our house this is, quite literally, the truth. It’s amusing to see how “into” things they get, and how much joy it brings them to think and talk about them non-stop. That is, until they can’t shut off their brains from thinking about those things.

A while back, Isaac was preoccupied with a game he wanted to download to his phone. He asked my permission, but I declined. I told him I wanted his phone to be used as a phone. Regardless, it became a days-long obsession. He bargained, pleaded, asked Mom, and tried to convince siblings to ask me. It reached a boiling point when one day he texted me from school, “How’s your day?” I thought he was genuinely asking, so I responded and we had a good dialogue. But then he got to the point and asked, “Just wondering… have you given any more thought to the game?”

[The Free Guide to Your Child’s Unique “ADHDisms”]

When he got home that night, I finally got firm. “If you don’t stop asking me for this game, especially in the middle of the school day, I’m gonna take your phone.”

He grunted, “Yes, sir,” and then avoided me for a few hours. I let him cool down, then I got firm with him for ghosting me.

He apologized and gave me a hug.

“You’ve got to know when to take no for an answer and move on,” I said.

“Yes, sir.”

A few months later, I got more relaxed about the kids having games on their phones. So I told him he could download the game. “Really?!” he said. “Cause I have some other games I’ve been wanting to ask you about.”

[Free Guide to Brain-Boosting Video Games]

“Son,” I said, “are you going to ask me about these games every day until I say yes?”

He smiled. “That’s my plan!”

“But if I say yes now, doesn’t that just mean you’re going to ask me every day for more and more stuff until I finally say no?”

He smiled even bigger. “Dang it, Dad. You’ve figured out my master plan.”