Tuesday, November 1, 2011

And now even my front yard has ADHD.

Image by Joe Hall

The first person in my family whom we suspected of having AD/HD was my oldest son, Rowan. This even was before he was born, when my mother began referring to him prophetically as "that ADD boy".

(Some of you are now sure that our expectations created a reality wherein my child was bound to occur as defective. Judge all you want. All the expectation in the world does not make a child violently hyperactive in an environment with no TV, video games or sugar. However, on the genetic front, my former husband was apparently once tied to a chair during his elementary education. That is all I will say about that.)

I tended to agree with my mother's suspicions. At one point, I was in the hospital thirty-four weeks pregnant with him, on bed rest for pre-term labor, when, obviously bored with the dull conditions caused by my being stuck in bed, my baby spent the afternoon going breech, head down, breech and head down again.

After he was born, we had to swaddle Rowan so tightly that he couldn't wiggle because his arms upset him. Christmas lights made him excited, then hysterical. Then, when he was six months old, he started bouncing. He would "stand" on an adult's lap, holding onto their hands, straighten his legs briefly, and a maniacal grin would cover his face as he would bounce incessantly until the adult got tired of this and handed him to someone else.

In preschool and kindergarten, this evolved into a tendency to hurl objects of all kinds across the room without malice or forethought. He delighted in sneaking up on little girls and roaring at top volume into their ears, and, later, deprived of all media but nature shows, played a game he called "Sharp-tooth Slasher". He spent quite a bit of time in the principal's office, thinking of himself as a bad person.

So I started a "Please Label My Son AD/HD Rather Than Labeling Him An Asshole" Campaign. And people thought I was weird.

I was right, though.

The thing is I liked Rowan just fine. I didn't, and don't, think there is a single thing wrong with having AD/HD, other than not being able to function according to societal expectations. Born to hunt and go to war, these kids really bog down in classrooms, and other rule-based environments. To me the label is a gift to help others understand them and get them resources. I was pushy and got my son a Section 504 under the Americans with Disabilities Act to force his school to accommodate his special needs.

Anyway, label in hand, Rowan got done with this early phase of having absolutely no detectable impulse control and a great love of all things over-the-top, and he settled in. At the age of eight, he somehow became a good student, with occasional, less than totally catastrophic brushes with authority. He was the bad kid no more.

Late in fifth grade, he elected to start taking medication so that he would stop losing his train of thought in the middle of reading a page over and over again, and be able to complete his increased workload. Now he gets straight A's.

I married ADD, too, albeit undiagnosed.

My husband, Mike, is the kind of person, though unusually intelligent, who keeps forgetting what day it is.

For example, one day I called him from work to ask him a favor. I got his voice mail, thought "Whatever", hung up. He called back, but at a time when I couldn't answer and left me a message saying, with beaming pride that, if I was calling to remind him to take Rowan to allergy shots, he was already on his way to get him. So I called back.

"It's Monday. Allergy shots are tomorrow."

"Oh", he laughs, "and I was so proud of myself for remembering".

Also, every night when he loads the dishwasher, he rinses the dishes, loads them according to this extremely perfectionistic, rigid system he has devised, adds soaps and then shuts the door and leaves. Without starting it. EVERY NIGHT.

And so on.

(People think I'm a control freak, and it's just because they don't realize I am managing a houseful of dingbats. Very, very smart dingbats.)

Anyway, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised the first time that school suggested that perhaps our son, Mikalh, who is now six, may have some attentional issues. (Typically, teachers only suggest this if your child is more or less catatonic with inattention, so I gave it some serious thought.)

I know that Mikalh has language processing issues, so it makes it hard to tease that out from attention issues in particular. How do you separate the fact that someone can't process what is being said to them 80% of the time from the fact that they aren't paying any attention to you anyway? It makes an interesting quandary. Anyway, I am taking a wait-and-see attitude on this one, given that he already has accommodations for his sensory and language processing needs. What remains seems to me to be giving him medication, and I am inclined to wait until he is older to even think about that.

Then, that leaves my middle child, whose claim to fame has been that he is the single child with no IEP living in our household. He is very bright, but does not require a differentiated program due to his IQ, and has appeared to have no learning disabilities or deficits of any kind.

Except if you watch him sit in a chair. 

Devin has actually destroyed multiple items of household furniture due to his tendency to view them either as bucking broncos or as poorly made see-saws. Then there is the fact that when directions are relayed to him, his execution of said directions resembles them just enough to be sort of a good parody. Despite, again, the well-over-average intelligence.

This last week, in sixth grade, things came to a head when he lost (not misplaced, but actually permanently lost) his lunch order with attached check, a book borrowed from his brother AND his lunch box. I helped him exhume the contents of his binder, and what followed might aptly have been titled Night of the Unfinished Assignments.

In summary, his teacher thinks that, since we mentioned it, it might be a good idea if we all took a look at his attentional capacities.

I think the lunch box may turn up, though. (Never lose hope.)

(There is something sort of simultaneously defeating and vindicating about considering the possibility that I may in fact be completely surrounded by people suffering from attentional deficits. It does explain the fact that I often find myself drifting off to sleep, hanging onto some mental to-do list like a life raft: "Must remember...to schedule...flu shots...")

So, here's the upshot:

For a few years now, in an effort to act like we are normal people, I have been planting bulbs in my yard. For two years in a row, I just bought several boxes of Dutch bulbs on impulse at Smith's while grocery shopping, and made my older children help me plant these in the yard. With the use of the proper bulb planter, this only took about half an hour per bulb.

Clay soil is a bitch.

Once, my husband came out and saw what we were doing. "This", he said, "is ridiculous."

And then, he said, "There has to be a tool."

Enter the Awesome Auger. (Don't watch this whole link. The first few seconds give you the whole gist.)

So, I am hittin' this mother fucker out of the park this year. I bought one hundred-fifty assorted tulips to guarantee me two full months of angiosperm joy all across my front yard. And with the Awesome Auger this shit would be no trouble at all.

Except that all this activity burned my husband's cheap drill out. So, he had to go get another one, and then I had to make dinner. But, no prob, he and Rowan could finish it on their own.

And they did. Bravo!

The next day, Rowan, who, as I've said is very smart, reflected  aloud, "You know, we planted ALL those tulips on the left side of the yard, Mom."


When confronted with this, my husband sheepishly informs me,

"Well, I ASKED you where you wanted them."

Me: "I am unable to SPECIFICALLY tell you where I want one hundred-fifty bulbs to go."

Mike: "Well, I DID ask."

Me: "Part of the problem is, you don't really LISTEN. I SAID I wanted them in GROUPS scattered across the yard."

Mike: "They are in one BIG group."

Me: "It will look like the yard has measles on one side of it. It will look like a fucking tulip INFESTATION."

Mike: "You just weren't clear about what you wanted."

Me: "If I had a normal husband, I wouldn't need to explain that I DON'T want tulips ONLY on ONE HALF of my front yard. That is IMPLIED."

And so on.

I can hardly wait for spring.


  1. Mike, you are just awesome-LOL..I can't wait to see the blooms too Tara!

  2. Love this post and LOVE THE PICTURES! And, the yard will look unique and interesting and a little bit wacky. Like the Adams family!

  3. The great thing about blogging humor is that when asinine things happen, you can be excited because it makes good blogging material. So yay for lopsided fields of tulips!

  4. People think I'm a control freak, and it's just because they don't realize I am managing a houseful of dingbats. Very, very smart dingbats.

    This pretty much describes my life :) I am surrounded by ADD/ADHD.

    And it is very stressful at times. And flipping hilarious too. I think I may have ADD by osmosis..... ;-)

  5. The worst thing is that they put me on a migraine medication that essentially gave me ADHD also, hopefully temporarily, and I almost died of despair, wondering what would become of us. I THINK it may be getting better now...

  6. In my house, we see selective ADHD. The "maybe if I flake out, I will not have to do it" kind. ;)


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License