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!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Finished? Really?

I believe that my daughter's powerfully creative mind has allowed her to create an alternate reality where the kitchen is actually clean and her job is done. The problem is in my reality it is not done...it is not close to done.  Our realities are in deep and eternal conflict. A conflict that might find her walking into her bedroom today and discovering the greasy griddle waiting for her on her bed - hopefully, making a silent but effective POINT!

It is amazing to me that my children can tell me they are done or almost done when they are clearly not even in the ball park.  I am finished...except a couple things.  A couple things?  So, you mean you are finished except for the 10-15 grossest dishes you have left to wash, dry, and put away; except for the counters that are dirty and the sink and sweeping the floor. 

We have this "finished" debate a lot in my house.  It takes forever to get this crowd started, it takes great effort to keep them going; but, you have to part the Red Sea to get anything finished.

Can you tell I am a little frustrated?

When Mary was little and we would go for walks as a family,  she had a hard time keeping up.  Her little legs would get tired.  With out warning she would plop down on the ground little legs straight out in front of her and announce, "Mary is tired and can't go any more."  (she referred to herself in 3rd person at the time)

What she really meant is she would not go, she was not walking one more step, towards home or any other destination.  We would coax and prod and beg, all of us standing around her like a football team huddling, encouraging, but she would not move until she was good and ready to move.  Usually that meant she would not move until she was carried home. 

I use this example a lot when I am ranting about the importance of finishing. Lecturing, ranting, teaching, impressing upon, whatever you want to call it; my mom called them "learning experiences." My point to my children is you can't be like Mary on a walk when you are doing a job or chore.  You can't sit down in the middle and refuse to go any farther.  You have to continue until you finish.  Finish as in really done, not alternate reality done.

Life demands completion, adulthood and jobs, the world, demands completion.  One of my greatest fears as the parent of ADD/ADHD kids is that they will not learn this important lesson and it will come back to haunt them in their education, in the workplace, in life. 

But finishing is hard for the ADD/ADHD brain.  Even if they started with great gusto and excitement for a task sustaining that interest and energy to the end is highly unlikely, bordering on impossible.  The mental energy needed to stay on task slips away quickly, a million better things to think about and do creep in.  Before they know it they have wandered out of the kitchen and are in front of Facebook, reading, drawing, doing whatever it was that generated some excitement and the mental energy that comes with it; mental energy that the dishes can never compete with.

See, here is where the real lesson comes in for the kids and for myself.  I could do the dishes, I could wash that greasy griddle that is plaguing me...plaguing...but that would send the wrong message, teach the wrong lesson. 

In the end, they have to have the struggle, they have to make the choice to ignore the more exciting things to do, they have to choose to stay on task and figure out for themselves a way to do that until they really finish. 

Mark, my husband, has mastered this over the years.  He has developed coping mechanisms that help him get through the mundane and boring tasks of work and life. He paces himself, starting with the tasks he likes the least, the ones that are hardest to maintain his mental energy during.  He rewards himself with either a task he likes more or a timed departure from the required road.

He employs his now harnessed ability to hyper-focus to get deep into the groove of  his work and has tried to create an environment with the least number of distractions so that he can maintain his hyper-focus.

Whether they learn to use their father's system or find their own way of getting things done they can develop the skills that can be applied to so many of the boring but necessary aspects of life.  They can have to experience of fighting for control of their brain rather than letting its whims and fancies have control. They then can have the feeling of success that comes with really finishing.

NOW...I am off to put that griddle in a place where it will have the most impact; where it will really get her attention!


Susan Medeiros said...

Lisa: I now understand the term " Queen of the distracted" You go girl, and when she is finished cleaning the griddle she can take the grease stain off of the bed clothes...hahaha... love you Susan Medeiros

Susan Medeiros said...

Lisa: I now understand the term " Queen of the distracted" You go girl, and when she is finished cleaning the griddle she can take the grease stain off of the bed clothes...hahaha... love you Susan Medeiros