messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So Are We Smarter Than the Average Thunnus Albacares?

Just barely. But I don’t feel too badly because the idiocy springs from being a parent. Moms and dads everywhere are bamboozled, sucked in, and manipulated by their own children. My children could be classed as professional negotiators, drama queens, and tyrants, so we’ve got to really be on our toes.

I found a quote in my readings that seemed to light the bulb in hubby’s head. I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Daniel Amen lately, and I highlighted this from Magnificent Mind at Any Age:

“In dealing with kids, employees, and even spouses with ADD, no yelling! Many people with ADD seek conflict or excitement as a means of stimulation. They can be masters at making other people mad or angry. Do not lose your temper with them. If they get you to explode, their unconscious, low energy prefrontal cortex lights up and likes it. Never let your anger be their medication. They can get addicted to it.”

I think this is what happens in our house. Izzy and Luke draw us into conflict so often; they explode and expect a fireworks response from us. I know this may sound crazy to some. I mean, who likes conflict? No one would say they do, but if it gets your adrenaline pumping and your prefrontal cortex flashing, then whether it’s subconscious or not, you like conflict.

(Also addicted to fire.)

So we are trying not to be drawn in to the drama. We are trying to remain calm. We are trying not to yell or lecture. And I think we’re doing better. No magic bullets—for their behavior or ours—but we’re doing better. That’s what counts. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One Giant Leap for Izzy


I can’t afford to not write about this. It’s a positive, a success, a giant leap for Izzy. And it might be short lived, so I better get it down while the glow of success is still warming our lives.

Here it is. Izzy liked dance class! And then she liked it the next week. And now she has liked it three weeks in a row. She even said, “Mom, do you want to see part of my jazz routine?” I tried not to gush too much and freak her out and scare her off, but I think I nearly sang out, “Yes, of course.” She promptly did a little dance in the family room, which didn’t look like the jazz dances I have otherwise watched, but was definitely a dance with moves all over the room. My husband and I looked at each other astounded and shared a secret smile and raised eyebrows. “That was great,” I told her and gave her a little hug. In my head I was saying, “That was amazing, astonishing, brilliant, triumphant.”

What was so great about it? Well, for starters, she asked me if she could do dance this year. I put her in dance two years ago, but she didn’t like it. She spent most of the class looking in the mirror, chewing her hair, or meandering along when she was supposed to be hopping or chassé-ing. So we did not go back for more last year. When she asked me to do dance this year, I was surprised. I said, “Let’s try one class and see how you like it.”

So we went to the first class, and I prepared myself mentally to not be embarrassed or phased by her strange or unruly behaviors or comments such as “That was boring,” which I knew might possibly be voiced in front of dance teachers, students, parents, and the rest of our little dance universe. I hadn’t prepared myself to watch my daughter enjoy herself, follow a good deal of the instructions, try dance positions and leaps, and talk with other girls. Wow! What was happening? It was a Vyvanse, growing up, choosing-what-to-do-for-herself miracle.

There were definitely classic Izzy moments that made me laugh: During free dance, she chose to climb the doorway with her feet on either side of the door jam, while the other little girls were doing pirouettes and plies. And she had a few moments when the teacher had to remind her to join the class or when she was mixing it up with other kids. But overall, she seemed like a pretty regular kid having fun at dance class. I was as surprised and delighted as if someone had just left a warm, caramel bread pudding on my doorstep.

After class, I asked how it was. “Good,” she said. Amazed. No “Boring,” “Dumb,” or “I want to go home”? We drove home and brought my friend’s daughter with us. (Of course my friend could just send her daughter solo to her first class and have her be brought home with someone else.) Izzy even said a few words to the neighbor girl. I couldn’t hear them, but wow, she was starting a conversation with another child. Unprecedented.

By the next week, my glee had been replaced with a good dose of reality. Sure she liked it last week, but when I told her to get ready this week, I would probably meet a wall of resistance. Surprise again. I asked her to get her dance clothes on and she complied (not without a reminder or two, but without a struggle). She carpooled with my friend and came home happy as a clam for the second time. As she changed out of her dance clothes, she asked me when her new ballet slippers would arrive. And then talking more to herself, she said, “Why am I jealous because those other girls have dance bags? I have this one still.” And she put her dance stuff in her old bag with a big smile. Wow again.

Okay, week three, surely she would be bored with dance by now. No she loved it, and as mentioned above, came home and performed in the family room. What thing or combination of things brought about this miracle? I will never know exactly, but it’s a direction I like.