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Super Aunt to the ADHD Rescue

Mom used to claim that the things you worry about the most never happen. She was right more often than not. But she didn’t have a child with ADHD.

My mom used to say, “The things you worry about the most never happen.” She was right more often than not.

We spent the long 4th of July weekend with Don’s family in eastern Iowa. We kicked off the festivities Thursday evening with dinner at Tuscan Moon, a beautiful upscale restaurant in Kalona, Iowa, in celebration of Don’s parents’ 44th anniversary.

I worried about that dinner for weeks. We’d spend over two hours in the car getting to Kalona, then walk straight into a nice restaurant and Natalie would have to sit some more. It was a recipe for disaster for a child with ADHD.

I tried to plan ahead; to do everything I could to make this dinner a success.

Strategy # 1: Keep Natalie busy and happy throughout the car ride.

Strategy #2: Arrive 30 minutes early, so Natalie can run off energy before entering the restaurant.

Strategy # 3: Enter the restaurant clean and appropriately dressed.

Strategy #4: Keep Natalie busy, happy, seated, and quiet throughout dinner.

One by one, my plans failed.

Failure #1: Natalie hates long car rides. When we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Aaron sits in the front seat with Don. I sit in the back with Natalie, and try to entertain her. For this trip, I bought a new book of word find puzzles, a coloring book with black pages and ultra-bright crayons, a travel size Lite-Brite, and a new Wiggles DVD in hopes of keeping Natalie busy. She tore through all of them and declared that she was bored before we even left town.

Failure #2: We’re ALWAYS late. Why should this be any different? Don called his mom when we were about 20 minutes away. She was already in the restaurant, seated.

Failure #3: Nat wore her play clothes in the car, and then changed in the car as we neared Kalona. She managed to stay fairly clean during the drive, in spite of eating McDonalds’ chicken nuggets and fries and an M & M McFlurry. Her secret for staying clean? She spilled her sweet and sour sauce all over me instead of herself! I, of course, brought nothing to change into.

Failure #4: We rushed into Tuscan Moon to find Don’s parents, his brother Gary, sister-in-law Sandy, and nieces Carlee and Haylee enjoying appetizers. I was exhausted, frustrated, and more than ready for a big glass of wine. Since Nat had depleted every activity I could think of during the car ride — I sat down empty handed. No coloring book, no word find puzzles — nothing. I even forgot Nat’s evening dose of Ritalin in the car.

Recipe for disaster? Hell, this was suicide! Until…

Aunt Sandy to the rescue!

From inside her purse Sandy produced a baggie full of colorful, polished rocks, then retrieved a pile of clean appetizer plates from the waiter’s hands. Nat’s cousins, Carlee and Haylee, had outgrown their rock collections, and were handing down their treasures to Nat. Nat stood beside the table (we were outside, at the rear of a patio area, so Nat could move around, and didn’t have to be especially quiet) and sorted her new rocks happily. She sorted by size. She sorted by color. She had everyone pick out their favorites. She served us all rocky cheesecake and rocky pie.

By the time we finished the main course, Natalie was tired of the rocks, and was starting to get antsy. Aunt Sandy to the rescue again! She had Carlee, age 14, lead the kids around the block for an ice cream cone, before meeting us back at the restaurant.

We relaxed, drank wine, ate a delicious meal — even enjoyed coffee and dessert, for TWO AND A HALF HOURS!!

Even though all of my strategies failed, the dinner was a huge success. Happy Anniversary, Marv and Helen!

Thank you, Aunt Sandy!