Guest Blogs

Operation Mean Man Patrol

Not everyone understands my sweet, charming, perfectly acceptable though not-quite-typical daughter with ADHD.

Once again, I’m writing from Lake Okoboji. This time, we’re on our family vacation — Don, Aaron, Natalie and I. We’re staying at Bridges Bay, a new family resort. It has an indoor water park and an outdoor pool. Great entertainment for busy kids.

Unfortunately, Nat had a bad experience last night — our first night here. I wasn’t right there when it happened, but from her description of the event, I’m guessing it related directly to her atypical social skills, and therefore, to her attention deficit disorder (ADHD).

I said atypical social skills, rather than poor social skills deliberately. I don’t think her social skills are all that poor. In fact, a lot of the time, her impulsiveness translates into a lack of social inhibition that is downright enviable. At other times, her lack of boundaries can be disconcerting.

Last night, once the two kids were acclimated to the area, I grabbed a lounge chair by the outdoor pool, and pulled out my book. This is what I call a vacation, I thought.

But before long, Nat came running over. “There’s a mean man in there! He yelled at me!”

“Tell me what happened,” I said.

Nat said she was swimming next to him, and he told her to “Shoo! Get away from here!” A line from my picture book, Dog Tales, ran through my mind:

“Go away,” said the man. “Go away! Get lost! Shoo!”

“What’s wrong sir?” Miss June said. “These dogs won’t hurt you!”

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening trailing Natalie like a bodyguard, keeping the Mean Man in my sights; my body between him and Natalie. She was terrified. So much for a relaxing vacation.

Why did he “shoo” her? Maybe she got a little too close, didn’t respect his personal space. Maybe she stared at his butt-ugly face for a few seconds too long. She may have even spoken to him, or more likely to his daughter, probably a three year old, whom he held and played with ‘til closing time. None of these is too terrible an offense for a little girl in a swimming pool.

I hope he’s gone today, so Operation Mean Man Patrol can be over. I want to enjoy my vacation — with my sweet, charming, perfectly acceptable though not-quite-typical ADHD kid.

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