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“I Got This, Dad!” And Other Hilarious Sayings of ADHD Teens

As he begins to navigate high school, our oldest son is exerting his independence — and chafing more and more at his parents’ oversight and advice. We let a lot of infractions go in the name of learning from mistakes, but every once in a while we just stop and laugh at the long road ahead.

My son Isaac is invited to a birthday party, so we stop at the dollar store, where I hand him my last buck. “Get your friend a card,” I say. So he hops out, runs into the store, and about a minute later he’s back out.

“That was fast,” I say.

“Yep,” he says. And hands me the card.

I review the card and hand it back to him. “Do you see anything wrong with the card?”

He looks at the front, then the inside message, and gives me a confused look. “No, it looks fine to me.”

“Buddy, this is a Thanksgiving card.”

[Free Resource: Transform Your Teen’s Apathy Into Engagement]

He furrows his eyebrows. “It is?” He looks at the front and the inside again. “I guess I got confused.”

“By what?” I say. The pitch in my voice goes up. “The pilgrims and the big turkey on the front? Or the message inside that says, ‘Happy Thanksgiving?’”

“Well it says ‘Happy’ like four times, and my friend’s birthday is in November. I just thought… I mean… I don’t know…”

When Isaac was younger, Laurie and I would approach just about every single infraction or goofball mistake as a teachable moment. He’s a teenager now, so the hyperactivity combined with adolescence means that we now have a choice: coach him every few minutes or let a ton of this stuff go.

To be honest, we also used to worry he would be the one kid who shows up and just hands the birthday boy a $20. We took it seriously that this kind of thing made us look bad, too. This was until a few weeks ago when, at Isaac’s 14th birthday party, several of his friends did exactly that: walked in the door, handed him a $20 bill, and said “happy birthday.”

[Free Webinar Replay: You’ve Got This! Motivating Teens Without Threats or Arguments]

So when I get home, I show Laurie the card and we share a long, long laugh. Because this is just too stinking good. Then she says, “I’m putting this card in my dresser for safe keeping!”

“We don’t want to tease him,” I say.

“Oh it’s not for teasing,” she says. “I’m whipping this out every time he tells us he doesn’t need us up in his business. Every time he says ‘I got this,’ I’m gonna remind him he doesn’t have it. Getting a zero on a homework assignment? Wearing the same shirt two days in a row? I’m gonna say, ‘Isaac, don’t make me get the Thanksgiving card!’”

“Good call,” I say.

Laurie looks at the card again. “Where’s the envelope?”

“The what?” I say.

She gives me a smile. “You heard me.”

“I don’t know… I guess he didn’t get one.”

“Uh huh,” she says. “I might have to use this card on you, too.”

[It’s Time to Land Your Helicopter]

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  1. 😢 Please, please, PLEASE don’t hold your loved ones mistakes over them like this! That can be so damaging to someone’s self-esteem. Especially to children and teens. Especially to anyone with emotional hypersensitivity.
    Granted, this is all anecdotal, coming mostly from personal experience, and a little from the experiences of my friends and children. But there’s so much going on in a person’s head right after making an obvious mistake… they’re most likely trying to quiet their embarrassment, anxiety, and confusion, all while trying to figure out where they went wrong, and how to correct it or prevent it in the future. Dragging up past mistakes in that moment only serves to demoralize them, and add to their frustration. It’s far more likely to inspire them to give up, than to encourage them to try again.

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