I was talking to my friend Steffani on Monday – her husband, Don, usually handles our car repairs – but it was Easter weekend and there were too many obligations.
She said to me, “Lisa, something is wrong. I don’t think it is ever taken Don 3 hours to do your brakes, much less 3 days.”
We were talking about our family’s 15 passenger van…the “monster” van. It was so named by our kids seven years ago when we drove it home for the first time. It was quite overwhelming to our kids at the time; they could barely climb in it they were so small. They were between the ages of 11 and 3 years old then.
Truth be told, it was overwhelming to me too, after all I was going to be driving it, turning it, and parking it all the time. I was lobbying for just a simple eight passenger van, one that we could all be happily squished in.
But, Mark has never thought small and squished. He knew all along that we needed that monster van.
There is some irony that at the same time I was feeling overwhelmed by this new driving experience, one I was not so sure I could manage the size of. I was also learning about ADD/ADHD for the first time and I was certainly not sure I could manage the size and scope of everything I had to learn and handle there either.
I am convinced that the true spirit of womanhood and motherhood is that we rise to the needs in our lives.
Now my dad, when he is driving with me, has a tendency to remind me, “Lisa, don’t forget, you’re not driving a Porche.” I handle that van, not perfectly, but with a lot more ease.
There is no doubt that the same is true in my relationship with ADD/ADHD.
I have a bit of a love hate relationship with cars. This van has been great to us, hauled us up and down mountains, on short trips and long trips. It has endured many pauses on the side of the road where we waited for arguments to cease. It has been Mariah’s second closet, housing a good half of her wardrobe and shoes.
As much as I really love that van, it is a car and they cost so much money. It’s a payment, or its money to register it or it has to be fixed. And fixing is just what we were doing this last weekend.
Mark assured me that, even though he had not willingly worked on the cars for maybe a decade, he could do brakes. We stopped and got the parts, rotors and new brake pads for both front wheels. Ouch! There is that money part.
Old rotors off, new rotors on …calipers… won’t fit on the rotors.
Hmmmmmmmmmmm…Well, that wasn’t good.
All the parts were bought at the same store. All of the parts are supposed to match up. All the parts do not match up.
Don stopped by and lent his professional eyes to the matter – all the work was done right – it was not Mark’s fault or error. Mark, felt much better, but the calipers still wouldn’t go on the rotors.
Enter hyper focus. While hyper focusing everything else goes away, there is only that thing – that goal – you are working on. There is no time, there is no need for food or water, no need for sleep, no pain that can not be set aside, and there is NO sense of reason. It might look an awful lot like obsession
You might, for instance, spend hours grinding down brake pads with your belt sander and retrying them on the caliper and rotor. You might set up lights in the driveway to do this when it gets dark. When it starts to rain you might make a tent out of bright blue tarps so that you can huddle on the cold ground and continue the grinding and retrying.
When hyper focusing you might end up looking like a chimney sweep from Mary Poppins, and you might even find yourself singing the songs as you work. You might do this for basically two days.
Hyper focus is the amazing ability to block out the rest of the world in total concentration on one thing. It is a common ADD/ADHD trait, one that throws people for a loop – especially those that think that ADD/ADHD means that you can never focus on anything. All the ADD/ADHD members of our house have the ability to hyper focus; only a few of them can control it and use it to their benefit.
Don’t get me wrong, hyper focus can be a valuable tool when headed the right direction.
It has been the drive behind my husband’s career. He puts himself in a creative place where there is nothing else in the world. He works for hours on end in the pursuit of that vision. His hyper focus has carried over into a constant quest for knowledge of the latest and greatest in his field. These qualities have made him very successful at what he does and a valued employee.
It has definitely led my children to develop skills and knowledge beyond their age in the various passions they pursue. I have watched as they, in varying degrees, could not help but hyper focus.
I have watched as they got swept down the raging river of an idea, a song, a painting, a story, a time period in history, a game, cartwheels, bike riding, baseball and anything else that may become the focus. I have watched as they could not stop.
At the end of the two days of hyper focus the brake pads and calipers still didn’t fit on the rotors.
In the mean time, I was trying to figure out why all the “right” parts wouldn’t fit together and was obsessively pursing my own path with the parts store and the dealer.
The culmination: we have a 1 ton van with a ¾ ton front end on it. Not so surprisingly, the ¾ ton front end requires the ¾ ton rotors which are about half as thick as the 1 ton rotors. Half as thick, and the brake pads and calipers fit right on, in less than 3 hours.
Wouldn’t it figure that the van that drives our large and unique family all over would be just as unique as we are?