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Someday, We’ll Look Back on This Fondly

ADHD manifests differently during each stage of childhood, and my kids are now squarely in the pubescent and teen stage of high emotions — both good and bad. On the days when even their laughter drives me nuts, I try to remind myself that I’ll miss this in a few years. Maybe.

The kids are cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, and I’m in the master bedroom with the door shut. I’m hiding, really. I’m trying to calm down and unclench my jaw. All four of the kids — three of whom have attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) — are taking turns singing the “I see a little silhouetto of a man” portion of Bohemian Rhapsody, and it’s driving me insane.

Laurie comes into the bedroom and gives me a smile. “I had to get out of there, too.”

“We’re the worst,” I tell her. “The kids are getting along for once, and we can’t get away from them fast enough.”

Laurie and I are full on in parents-of-adolescents mode. This fall, our oldest will start high school, our middle two will be in middle school, and our baby will begin third grade. My hyperactive young ones are now moody teens and preteens. Their ADHD diagnoses used to mean they were quick to bouts of high energy, which have been replaced by quick bouts of mouthing off and petty bickering.

Sometimes we miss the simpler times. They were so cute when they were little and would play together all day, share their milkshakes freely, and seemingly never get tired of each other. But these little daydreams don’t last long. We’re quickly interrupted by a crisis – someone 1) lost the remote control, 2) stole their seat on the couch, 3) is hogging the bathroom, or 4) farted in their general area.

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“You’ve got to let some things go,” Laurie and I tell them.

“But they’ve been farting all day!” they respond. “This is the hundredth time!”

On the rare occasion they’re getting along, the kids are equally (if not all the more) exhausting. Last week, they were clearing the kitchen table when two of them bumped into each other. One of them, in a British accent, says, “After you,” to which the other, also in a British accent, responds, “Oh I insist. After you.” Then they go back and forth. I laugh for about ten seconds before I have to excuse myself, leave the room, and find a quiet place where I can ponder why the laughter of my children annoys me so much.

So now they’re in the kitchen ruining my favorite Queen song. I retreat to the bedroom, where I pull up a memory on Facebook from five years ago: Jasmine has insisted we take a video of her dancing, but the boys keep getting in her shot. Each time she sees them out of the corner of her eye, she stops dancing, stomps her foot, and screams some random, three-year-old gibberish. Then she charges at them with both fists wailing in the air. This, of course, encourages the boys to do it over and over again.

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It’s not clear to me in the video whether Laurie and I find this maddening or hilarious, but if I took the trouble to record it I must have found it amusing. In the same way, I consider five years from now when we’re in college and high school mode. Laurie and I will look back fondly, I’m sure, on memories of the kids singing songs while doing the dishes, bickering over which TV show to watch. Soon I’ll look back and consider days like today to be simpler times.

So I go back in the kitchen, where I find the kids not doing the dishes but trying to work out the choreography to “All the Single Ladies.”

“You’re not doing it right!” one of them says to the other.

“Yes, I am!” the other says.

At this point, I turn around and go back to my bedroom. “That didn’t take long,” Laurie said.

“I can’t do it!” I say. “You wanna hear what they’re doing now?”

“Absolutely not,” she says with a smile.

“Yeah,” I say, “You really don’t want to know.”

[12 Ways to Build Strong ADHD Families]