Guest Blogs

The New King of Lego

My ADHD son never posed a threat to his brother’s master-builder status – but treatment improved Edgar’s motor skills, jeopardizing Oscar’s reign, and making parenting more challenging.

Sibling rivalry has always been alive and well in our house. With three boisterous boys, competition – for space, for attention, for the mastery of skills – has been elevated to an art form. But when you have a child with ADHD, a child whose diagnosis and medical regimen have changed his life for the better, sibling rivalry has an added dimension.

Edgar, now eight, and just a year younger almost to the day than his older brother Oscar, was once mistaken for his brother’s twin. We formed our family through adoption, and there was a time when passers-by thought they were the same age and each other’s double. Oscar and Edgar don’t share a single biological connection.

It didn’t last long. Oscar, now twice Edgar’s body mass and five inches taller, is often thought to be several years older than his next-youngest sibling. He has relished his perceived status.

Oscar, as the oldest, has always done things first, and, with a younger sibling with undiagnosed ADHD, he was used to doing things more easily, if not better, than his brother.

For a child – and most adults – that’s not a position one is inclined to give up.

Yet Oscar had to let go. He watched his brother, only weeks after taking ADHD medication, begin violin lessons, an instrument that Oscar had excelled at for years. He saw his brother’s printing improve. While Edgar’s writing isn’t “neat,” Oscar admitted that his brother’s words were often neater than his. He witnessed his brother’s burgeoning abilities develop in almost every arena and handled it with aplomb, with one exception: when Edgar became a master Lego-builder almost overnight.

Lego is a sacrosanct topic in our house, and Oscar has been the resident purveyor, engineer, and philosopher about these plastic bricks. He has always had the fine motor skills, the patience, and the brain and body control that Lego requires. His brother – with undiagnosed ADHD – was never a threat to his reign.

ADHD medication, though, helped Edgar acquire the motor skills that – coupled with his abundant creativity – have allowed him to build beyond the manual’s creations. This has caught Oscar’s eye and piqued his envy.

Oscar says that he is glad that “Edgar will soon be my Lego equal,” but I know that it’s hard for him to accept. It’s also hard for a parent to champion one child’s growth when that growth is at least a temporary threat to another child.

Lego comes with a manual, but parenting does not. Here’s hoping I have a fraction of Edgar’s creativity as I negotiate this latest quandary.