“Bad Day, Perfect Distraction”
If my daughter noticed my grouchy, glum mood, she certainly didn’t let on — or let up on the cheerful, disruptive visits to my office. I should have been annoyed, but some days you just have to accept the gifts that ADHD brings into your life without a fight.
I had a pretty lousy day recently. It was one of those Murphy’s Law kind of days when anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Laurie and I woke up late, so getting the kids out the door for school was a disaster. There was lots of shouting “Hurry up!” and “Get in the car!” Then lots of “But I forgot my [lunch box, back pack, shoes].”
Once I got to work, I made a couple of goofy mistakes, ticked off a customer, and then got chewed out by my boss. I work from home, so by the time the kids got off school, I was ready to hop in bed and call it a day. I didn’t want to put up with an afternoon of shouting “Do your homework!” and “Quit asking for snacks!” while I was trying to dig myself out of trouble with the customer.
I thought the kids would steer clear of me considering my short temper that morning. But the front door flew open and my three elementary school kids came running in. “Yay! Dad’s home!” They shouted.
“Guess what happened today?!”
“Can you come outside and play basketball with us?!”
“Can you make chocolate chip pancakes for our snack?!”
Typically when I work from home, I log out when the kids get home from school. I make them a snack, get them started on their homework, and just connect with them. But today, I was way too busy. I gave a ho-hum sigh. “Sorry, guys. I still have some work to do. You guys go make yourself a snack and get started on your homework. When that’s done, you can chill and watch a show for a little while or go outside.”
The three slumped their shoulders and gave me a half-hearted, “OK.”
Two minutes later, Jasmine came running in to the office. “Daddy! Can I have Cheese-Its for my snack?”
“Sure, baby doll. Now let Daddy work.”
Five minutes later, Jasmine came running in again. “Daddy! Do you want some of my Cheese-Its?”
“No, thanks. Now, please, let Daddy work.”
Three minutes later: “Daddy! Look at the outfit I put on Cici (her doll). She has on her fancy dress and roller skates.” She’s so amused by herself, she gives a loud, maniacal laugh.
“Baby doll, you have to let me work.”
Then a few minutes later…
Sometimes, it seems my favorite sentence is, “Jasmine, take it down a couple notches.” I say it all day long, even though it never works. She whispers, “Ok, Daddy!” then runs out and spreads her chaos to the next room. I suppose the advantage of my kids’ short ADHD attention spans is that they don’t pay attention to me when I step out of line, and get frustrated or short-tempered.
As Jasmine continued to interrupt me, I started to feel less frustrated and more like a heel. I looked at the email I’d been trying to finish for the last fifteen minutes. I thought, If I can just get this email done, then I can move on to… But then Jasmine burst in again. “Daddy! Look I drew a picture.”
She’d drawn a picture of me surrounded by a bunch of spotted circles. “Those are all the chocolate chip pancakes,” she said.
I took a deep breath. “You liked it when Daddy made pancakes?”
“You want pancakes for dinner today?”
Her eyes lit up. “Can we have them now?!”
I looked again at the email I still hadn’t finished. “Sure, baby doll,” I said. “It’ll feel nice to finish SOMETHING today.”