Queen of the Distracted

Imagine life in a house with 6 kids - now imagine if 5 of those kids and their father have ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) - that is our house! Welcome to an inside view of my life and our home dominated by ADHD... THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT!

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls!

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls!"

Those were our oldest daughter Rachel's first words, from the time she was a toddler she would belt them out proudly standing on the arm of the couch. At the time we had no idea what ADHD was or that it would play such a central roll in our lives.

Since then we have learned a lot, not the least of which is how many individuals and families suffer in silence. We have experienced first hand how misunderstood and misrepresented a disorder can be.

As a family we decided to take action - to risk embarrassment and labeling to get this important message out to the world. Come join our family, share in our lives, and see ADD/ADHD as we see it...
A gift with a heavy price tag.

WELCOME to life in the ADD/ADHD House!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attack of the Breadi

Darth Breader?  Is he white or wheat?  Was he wheat and then came back to the white side? Ahhh the early morning wanderings of the ADHD brain!  A family passion for Star Wars and a long standing debate over white and wheat bread had meshed together, the kids were riding the morning ADHD wave. 
Most of the time I am not as amused by the distractions. The time between when everyone gets up and everyone’s medicine kicks in is entirely too long.  But it was summer and nothing was pressing so I sat back, the passive observer.
Today’s musings centered on white vs. wheat bread.  There they were, all six of the kids then ranging in age from 16 to 7 years old at the time entangled in the heated debate.  They argued over texture and nutrition, lack of time and effort it takes to return white bread to dough form, sculpting abilities and flavor – They divided into sides and clubs; the ‘I love white bread’ club and the ‘I love wheat bread’ club (only to be compared to the past clubs of love and hate for enchiladas, kielbasa and other foods).
The white side even refused to acknowledge the existence of any bread but white bread.  Is there any other real bread?  They manipulated and argued, pointing out that “wheat breaders” do eat the white bread.  Does that make them traitors to their wheat bread cause? The “white breaders” insisted that they would not endorse the creation of a wheat bread army.
 “I am sorry, but the debate is not over. The senate will never approve the creation of a wheat bread army,” Hunter said mixing his current Star Wars obsession with the white vs. wheat issue.
 Maybe they need an army for protection since one of the other kids, Mary, mentioned something about having her younger brother for lunch on wheat bread with BBQ sauce. 
"STOP arguing and TAKE Your Medication!"  It was time to move on with the day.  
Someone cried out for a peace treaty.  The wheat breaders ate wheat and the white breaders ate the last bit of white bread.  What will they do for lunch? They will have to wait for the sequel, Hannah says. . . “Return of the Breadi!” 
On a different day with more pressing obligations, I would not have been so amused.  I would have been frustrated, bordering on angry as I fought the never-ending tide of distractions, as I pushed my crew of six up the river against the stream of their ADHD mindsets. On those days distractions and musings are very similar – I don’t enjoy them as much as I probably should.  Mornings and pressing schedules work in complete opposition to the ADHD brain.  A constant barrage of reminders about things one really thinks should be automatic and not require a parent’s attention: flush the toilet! Put your pants on!  Shoes!
I feel A bit of envy for the mom whose child gets up and ready and out the door in minutes rather than hours.  A driving desire to be more like that sends us on a never-ending quest for morning relief. 
I have used check lists, charts, and set out essentials the night before, so that we could slide the kids from one morning activity to the next, into their clothes and out the door.  I have begged, pleaded and threatened to take people as they were at the designated time – even if that meant they were half dressed and shoe-less. In the end I chickened out, I have yet to take anyone half dressed, ¾ dressed is another story.
One mom shared with me that she dressed her big 12 year old son or they would never get out the door.  She isn’t alone.  At one point I slipped my children their medicine in bed and let them go back to sleep for a little while so that they got up semi medicated – surely the closest we ever got to that ideal of the ‘normal’ house and morning ease.  I stopped that when I figured out that I was losing medicated time in the afternoon – homework time – precious much needed medicated time. 
Structure, my husband suggested over and over – following a flight plan so you have something to return to when they wander off forgetting what to do next.
For a long time, I thought the structure wasn’t working; I have used the same schedule since my oldest daughters were little. Early on I realized that feeding them before I got them dressed just meant dressing them twice.  Our flight plan: they get up, take medication, eat, wash up, and get dressed.  Every day I reminded my kids  what came next, as if this was a brand new system.  A decade of reminders makes you really question your system.
 I was not a believer in the structured morning, but my husband, who has ADHD swears by the importance of routine and heaven knows his routine is critical to the tone of his whole day.  When we changed to home school, I thought I would change the morning routine to  fit our new schedule.  Only then was I taught a valuable lesson.
There was a general revolt!
I was reminded, even lectured that I was wrong and we “didn’t do it like that.” It was obvious that the structure they appeared to ignore was a foundation for them.
In the end, what has changed the most is me.  I started to let go of the “Easy Morning” pipe dream and embrace the morning struggle.  It is our normal. 
Our normal is retelling every dream, talking over each other and interrupting in an effort not to forget that stroke of genius that hit like a bomb and is surely fleeting.  Our normal is bizarre plans for the day and profound thoughts like, ‘Pretend it’s the future and everything is chrome.” Our normal is a spontaneous discussion about Napoleon's European campaign and defeat in Russia.
I have learned to allow more time for normal, even hours.  Learned to roll with it on most occasions, the ADHD wave that rolls through our house .
I stop more to enjoy the chaos and creativity and at least chuckle as I say for the umpteenth time, “that is great, now please go brush your teeth.” and watch as a look of recall rolls over a child’s face, the “oh yeah that’s what I was doing” look.   


Gina Pera said...

OMG, this is hilarious!

And I can't help but see the parallels over the political bickering in this country, which on some levels strikes me as a whole lot of self-medicating with oppositionality, arguing, and plain old provocation.

Great blog, Lisa!

Gina Pera, author
Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.?

Lisa Aro said...

Thank you so much Gina!

When one of my older daughters was about 12 she went through this really crazy stage where she would provoke an argument every night before bed...like clock work. It was crazy to watch as she would get someone (usually her older sister) so worked up that they would explode, You could watch the dopamine hit and literally wash over her, she would relax, smile and be off to bed leaving the rest of us all worked up.

People didn't necessarily believe us when we said it was an ADHD thing and she was self medicating by being argumentative but we knew! We ended up putting her on evening meds and we had very little explosive nights since.