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.”
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 across 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.
[Take This 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 and make friends. I am the mother who has had no one show up to her kid’s party… and it is heartbreaking 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.
[Download This: Your Free 13-Step Guide to Raising a Child with ADHD]
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.
[Click to Read: What I Wish the World Knew About My Child’s ADHD]
Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider subscribing. Your readership and support help make our content and outreach possible. Thank you.