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My Kid Is “That Kid”

“I am that mother walking into the birthday party with my kid, who was only invited because the whole class was invited. I see the eye rolls and hear the whispers, and so does my kid. I hate to say it, but yours does, too.”

that kid
that kid

Every parent and educator knows “that kid.”

You know the one I am talking about: the kid who runs around the classroom and seems so defiant or out of control you’re convinced his or her mother poured a pot of coffee into their cereal. “That kid” is always out of their seat, always interrupting, never raises their hand, and sometimes comes completely unhinged. “That kid” comes to school with no homework, incomplete homework, or homework that was not done the right way.

At the playground, “that kid” is the loudest, most frenetic one — on the swings one second and the slide the next. They are asking, “Hey, guys, can I play?” — and the other kids generally say no or shy away because they deem that kid “weird” — shorthand for socially immature. Maybe they are bossy and want the game played a certain way. Maybe they get upset when the rules aren’t followed or changed, creating a rift between themselves and the other kids.

“That kid” only gets invited to a party when the whole class is invited. When they show up to said party holding their mom’s hand, eyes are rolled, mouths are covered, and the whispering begins. In a store, the hostile glaring is sometimes too much to take.

I know that kid. Actually, I know two of them. One is 10, the other is 5, and they are my entire world. I am the mother of “that kid.”

I see it all — like the exhausted look on the teacher’s face as she leads my child to me with the mile-long list of rules violations. I have watched my sons try to connect on the playground, where their excitement of being FINALLY included creates this energy that their body must release as shrieks, screams, and loud laughing — all of which puts other kids off.

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have Hyperactive Impulsive ADHD?]

I am that mother walking into the birthday party with my kid. I see the eye rolls and hear the whispers, and so does my kid. I hate to say it, but yours does, too. I stay, trying to guide my kid through the activities and encourage him to join the others. I am the mother who has had no one show up to her kid’s party… and it is heart breaking for both of us. I also understand the other kids’ and parents’ frustrations. I get it.

I wish they could spend a day in my shoes, though. I want you to know that kid — who he really is. I want you to know that my kid is the one who will see a child crying and do anything to make them smile, even if it takes him “tripping” himself and falling on his face (yes, seriously.) My kid is so funny that he brings tears to the eyes of people who really get to know him. He also lies in his bed crying and wondering why “nobody likes me.” He can complete a 750-piece LEGO set and in two hours. He will bring the money he earned pulling weeds to school and buy someone a treat or pay for their lunch. He has empathy like no other kid you will find because he takes on the hurt of the world. My kid is a beautiful, wonderful, loving soul.

He is also a handful.

Yes, I have thrown my 4 year old over my shoulder to carry him out of the store while he screams, hits, and kicks me. I hear the people say, “She needs to get better control of her kid.” Yes, even with a screaming kid in my ear, I hear you. And to that I say, what does it look like I am doing? This is me trying. I also see the sympathetic half smiles and nods. I have even heard “You are doing great; you got this mom.” To you I say, “THANK YOU.” Really, thank you for understanding that this is me trying to do the very best I can to be a good mom.

Please talk to your kids about “that kid.” If you have a question about their behavior, don’t tell your child that you don’t know what is wrong with “that kid.” Talk to me, the mother.

[Free Webinar Replay: How to Accept Your Child’s Diagnosis]

When you see my kid yelling at yours for going up the slide and not down or throwing a fit because home base was the tree and someone else decided to use the trash can instead, please don’t tell your kid to stay away from “that kid.” If you don’t know how to approach them, talk to me. Yes, he has ADHD, but he is not immune to feeling left out.

He is used to a schedule and rules. When someone cuts in line or suddenly changes the rules of the game, this is a BIG DEAL to him. He goes to therapy to learn that the rules are the rules and the schedule is set. Understanding why other kids don’t follow the rules is so difficult for him, even if your kid didn’t see him there. He is still upset and hurt, and telling your kid to stay away is by no means teaching either child to learn to get along and accept differences.

I am not going to pretend my child is perfect. Lord knows that not a day goes by when I don’t want to pull out my hair. But I can tell you honestly: For every bad behavior they demonstrate, there are ten others that are wonderful.

So, I beg of you: Take time to get to know “that kid.” You won’t regret it.

Please, if you can relate or know someone who can. Share this. It is a lonely world sometimes being the parent of that kid, but I want you to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. This is me trying to do the very best I can for THAT KID.

[What I Wish the World Knew About My Child’s ADHD]

Updated on December 6, 2019

33 Related Links

    1. This is exactly what I went through in elementary school with my daughter. However, what made it worse was kids parents and teachers who turned their backs on her when she was being bullied. There was this attitude that she somehow deserved it because she was annoying or difficult.

    2. I can assure you that my eyes were not dry as I typed them. It came from my heart. I have a Facebook blog that is linked in the article. I write a lot about our journey and try to be as transparent and honest as possible. Feel free to check it out

  1. Thanks. Thank you for helping me see my child in the proper light. Thank you for letting me know I amps a parent am not alone. It’s a journey. And I needed this information at this time. Thank You.

    1. I am so thankful to be able to help you with my own experiences. You are most set not alone. I also run a blog that is linked to this article that you can feel free to join. I share a lot about our experiences and try to be as honest and transparent as possible.

  2. This also brought a tear to my eye. My little one has attachment difficulties but so much of this sounds familiar. No party invites, the loudest kid who will help anyone and buy them cake to cheer them up who others think is weird and take advantage of her vulnerabilities.

    1. It is hard to watch your child struggle through what seems to come easily to other kids. I can assure you while writing this my eyes were not dry. I share a lot of things such as the one on this article to my blog on Facebook that is linked here. Feel free to join I try to be as honest and transparent as possible.

    2. It is hard to watch your child struggle through what seems to come easily to other kids. I can assure you while writing this my eyes were not dry. I share a lot of things such as the one on this article to my blog on Facebook that is linked here. I share about the struggles and joys.

  3. You have said exactly what I felt for so many years. The only difference is that it was my daughter… Honestly, I think it’s worse for girls because they aren’t expected to have the combined-type of ADHD. Where many see the boys “just being boys” it’s not acceptable for girls. It’s been a long, hard road, but she’s a rising Junior in high school and we found the “right” school for her. We have a happy, confident teenager (not perfect, but after what we’ve been through, the best ever), who sees she is worthy and smart! Just a couple years ago, she was telling me to f-off as we were checking out at Costco, and I got “the look” from several around us. She’s able to identify when she’s getting worked up now, so we don’t have those outbursts in public places.

    Hang in there…it will get better!!

    1. This is my son, he gets worked up and does not do very well with holding back how he really feels (usually verbally). I would greatly appreciate any advice you could give me on helping him identify when he is getting worked up, and how we can help him.

      Joni

    2. I was at Walmart and my youngest adhder started a full blown meltdown. I took him out of the cart and had to throw him over my shoulder. It was mortifying. I spent many nights crying and feeling all alone while other nights were spent researching and learning all I could. I started my Facebook blog that is linked to this article because I came to a point where I thought “I know I am not all alone in this” I just wanted to reach parents like yourself to say “Hey, nope you aren’t alone.” I am glad to have helped you.

  4. Beautifully written. We live in an area which values education, our schools are ‘future ready’. However, our teachers are out of step with the number of children who suffer with some level of emotional shortcoming. We Moms need to find a way to better educate our teachers to more effectively and Compassionately! Work with our children in school. Shocking how cruel children can be!

    1. I grew up being the kid who was left out and it was so hard. Now I am that kid’s mom and this is even more heartbreaking. I started my blog because I wanted parents like myself to feel less alone in their own journey. A link to That kid’s Mom can be found in this article.

  5. Thank you, seriously, thank you for your beautifully written post. It has me wanting to print it and hand it to every child and parent entering my son’s school on the first day. We are very lucky that for the most part we’ve been met with kindness and understanding at school. There are those parents though, the ones you have described to a “T” and sadly there has been trouble with friends, where my son will sit on the “Buddy bench” the whole recess waiting for a friend to play with, or I’ll hear from room mom’s that know, understand and love my kid, will tell me how other kids will set my child up to get in trouble because they know he is so wanting to “belong” that he’ll do what they say before he can slow down to think “wait that is going to get me in trouble “. Your words brought tears to my eyes and helped me not feel so alone.

    1. I appreciate all of your comments and this wonderful article! I’m so embarrassed all of the time at how others think of my little princess. It’s even harder for me living in the same community in which I teach kindergarten. I have found several ways to help other families and kids but struggle with my own. Now my son is exhibiting some of the same behaviors which I think he’s mimicking to get the same negative attention. My daughter is literally a wrecking ball knocking everything over in her path. When I try to explain to others, they always say that she’s not that bad?! Well, I continue on to explain how she keyed her initials into my car not once but twice on the same day, puts soap on her brother’s toothbrush in the morning when we’re late for school, uses my most expensive perfumes and soaps to make potions, and just recently started taking money out of peoples purses. Then I see a look of disbelief. Yes, she is a stinker but as sweet as honey, too. She is very empathetic to others when hurt, gives the best hugs and is supper funny! I pray for her peace every day as I know how hard it is as I have lived with this all of my life too! Being an ADHD mom is super hard especially when raising a daughter just like yourself! Thank you for publishing this for those with these strong willed kiddos and families who are helping us to survive!

    2. I am humbled by your kind words and support. I am privileged to be able to help you with my words. Print it out, share it on face book, spread it out! If you want to see more I have a Facebook blog that is linked to this article.

  6. THANK YOU! No one else could have expressed a mom’s feelings better!
    Sad to say that most of the time it is adults who made the barriers between kids! Kids are kids! They will see differences with other kids when their parents tell them exactly what to see and reasons why they should discriminate! Unfortunately we have to deal with these kinds of adults wherever we take our kids; school, church, restaurants, stores…
    Keep doing what you’re doing! Your kid will shine as the brightest star at the end!

    1. We have to lead by example. A lot of parents fail to realize that their kids are listening to and watching more than they know. Teach them right, lead them down the best path.i share a lot of posts like this article on my That Kid’s Mom blog that is linked in this article. Feel free to follow that too.

  7. Yes, a thousand times YES. Thank you for this article. Even if others never quite “get it”, this article reassures those of us living in it that we are not alone, and our children aren’t either. THANK YOU!

    1. You are so very welcome. I am blessed beyond words at all of the lovely supportive comments I have received. I am honored by all of you. There are more blog posts like this article on my That Kid’s Mom blog linked in the article I would love to see some of you there

    2. You are so very welcome. I am blessed beyond words at all of the lovely supportive comments I have received. I am honored by all of you. If you haven’t already done so follow my Facebook blog linked in this article.

  8. Thank you for this wonderful article, which expresses so well what I have so often felt and what my daughter has so often experienced. You described perfectly all the different behaviors that made schools so lonely and emotionally and even physically unsafe for my daughter. Perhaps if I had had this article to share with all the parents at my daughter’s last mainstream school, I might not have had to remove her from the school. It’s not just the bullies or the other kids who keep quiet in the face of bullying – the not so innocent bystanders – who make our ADHD kids unsafe. It’s the parents who defend their children, claiming their Johnny could never have hurt anyone, or their Becky would never say that, or even the parents who admit their kids are mean but beg off responsibility with lame excuses like, “I’ve tried but I just don’t know what to do.” School communities need to teach parents not to agree with their children when they call other children weird or awkward or annoying. Parents need to model compassion, understanding and empathy, asking their children how they would feel if they were in our children’s shoes and teaching them that being annoyed by someone else’s differences is not an excuse for cruelty. I hope this article will help spread this vital message.

    1. If I could only change the world for my children. I would love for parents and teachers to teach children to be accepting of others. It has been a long lonely road I have been traveling with my kids. My oldest was bullied so badly for a while. I started my Facebook blog that is linked to this article because I wanted to help other parents feel less alone

  9. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this!!! Your child and your experience sounds exactly like mine, and it is incredibly isolating. Thank you again! I can completely relate 💗

    1. You are the very reason I write. Parents just like yourself. I can’t reach out and hug you in person and say “You aren’t alone” but I did start to blog. There is a link to it on this article if you want to see more.

  10. Awesome post! My son and our family have had all of these same experiences! Every last one. Every day is an adventure. Our children are amazing. They experience life with intensity. This intensity makes them socially awkward. But it also is a gift because they are intensely lioving, compassionate, creative, spontaneous, and fun! One day the challenges of childhood will be behind them and all their gifts will be able to be in the forefront of their lives. 🙂

    1. It is a wonderful adventure with my kids. Every day is a rollercoaster literally. I share a lot about this on my blog that is linked in this article. I would love to see you follow and say hi.i am pretty good about responding there too.

  11. I cried reading this. Sometimes I could care less about what people think of my parenting, they don’t know what is like to have a kid with ADHD. I know that I am a better parent because of it. I have such patience for all kids, and the ability to connect with kids in a way that many parents can’t.

    But the pain comes when the criticism is aimed at my son. It hurts. He is such an amazing, intelligent, thoughtful person. He thinks about how to make things better, how to resolve things, how to help. He is so mature in so many areas, he just has impulse control difficulty, and is disregulated emotionally. It hurts that he is labeled ‘bad’ and embarrassed that he can’t write his name as well as other kids. It hurts to see other people attack his self esteem. Sometimes I want to explain to other parents that is adhd just to excuse his behavior somehow. Sometimes I feel like that’s stupid too. I don’t know what to do about the feelings that come up for me then.

    1. You have no idea. I was practically bawling writing this. I have think skin and a mama bear crossed with…well a mama tiger probably. My first instinct is to attack when my kid is being criticized but I have learned to come from a place of understanding on both fronts. I have shared many more experiences on my blog there is a link that you can find connected to this article.

    2. You have no idea. I was practically bawling writing this. I have think skin and a mama bear crossed with…well a mama tiger probably. My first instinct is to attack when my kid is being criticized but I have learned to come from a place of understanding on both fronts. I have shared a lot in the blog that this article links to if you would like to read more posts like this one.

  12. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for for all the comments and replies to comments with all of your support ♥️ You are all the very reason as to why I started bloging. I felt so alone in my journey for so long. I have lost friends because of the lagging skills my own children possessed. When mentioned my concerns to my own family I was met with kids will be kids. I had so may road blocks and my kids have had so many struggles. It was so easy to feel lost while reading articles and books about how to help our little warriors. The experts make it seem so easy. The judgements of others can make the loneliness almost crippling. I wanted to reach out to people just like all of you to say “Hey, you are not alone. I am perfectly imperfect in this journey.” Please feel free follow my blog on Facebook and my Instagram account that ADDitude has so graciously linked to this article. I can possibly publish all of my blog posts to the quest blogs so definitely check out all I share😘 I am blessed to be able to reach all I have so far. Thank you all so much.

  13. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for for all the comments and replies to comments with all of your support ♥️ You are all the very reason as to why I started bloging. I felt so alone in my journey for so long. I have lost friends because of the lagging skills my own children possessed. When I mentioned my concerns to my own family I was met with kids will be kids. I had so may road blocks and my kids have had so many struggles. It was so easy to feel lost while reading articles and books about how to help our little warriors. The experts make it seem so easy. The judgements of others can make the loneliness almost crippling. I wanted to reach out to people just like all of you to say “Hey, I am walking in your shoes and I get it. I am perfectly imperfect in this journey.” Please feel free follow my blog on Facebook and my Instagram account that ADDitude has so graciously linked to this article. I can possibly publish all of my blog posts to the quest blogs so definitely check out all I share😘 I am blessed to be able to reach all I have so far. Thank you all so much.

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