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!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Imagine That

Rachel was about 10 or 11 years old, she came screaming  down the stairs in a full panic.  It scared the living daylights out of me - I was sure that someone was badly injured.

When I finally got her calmed down enough to speak, the story came pouring out.  They had made a make believe pool in their bedroom with blankets on the floor.  Rachel was freaked out, Mary wouldn't listen to her - Mary was about 4 or 5years old at the time. 

This was not a new problem.  For some unknown reason, Mary, since she could communicate, had insisted that she was the oldest child in the house.  You can imagine how well this went over.  Rachel had the position, all the pressure, and responsibility but no amount of convincing could change Mary's mind - she was the oldest.

Gasping as she was crying Rachel explained, "Mary is swimming in the deep end of the pool.  SHE'S TOO YOUNG!  SHE CAN"T SWIM IN THE DEEP END - SHE'S GOING TO DROWN!"

Drown...in the imaginary pool?

Rachel was not sure how to take my relief - to her the possibility of real injury was as real as the pool was in her imagination.  I explained that life was pretty unfair if you couldn't swim in the deep end of the imaginary pool regardless of your age or skill level.  It took some convincing, but, we moved on.

Imagination has never been in short supply at our house.  In fact, imagination has been and is still central in our home.  It is another character trait that seems altered and heightened by ADHD.  This post could probably have been Creativity and ADHD Part III.  The imaginary world has such a  powerful presence in the lives of our children that is sometimes it trumps or replaces reality.

Rachel's imaginary friend, Da Da, was so real that when it was time for her to go Rachel announced that she had moved to Detroit.  At the time I had no idea she even was aware of a city called Detroit.  Young Mariah, who is very creative but much more left brained than her sister, ended up in front of her dad one night with a very serious question, "I don't understand, where do I get an imaginary friend?"

I suppose she figured it out as she has become quite the comedian, her imitations and accents combined with her make believe conversations leave us in tears from laughter.  They became the outlet for her imagination.  Somewhere along the line she figured out that imaginary friends were created not found.

When Rachel was in kindergarten her classmates would line up for a part in the plays that she put on during recess.  Her plots and back stories were extensive and detailed.  As she grew up she exerted her rank as oldest to enlist her siblings in her plots.  She even made them sign contracts to attend practices and perform.

Her siblings were her living imagination -  the actors on her stage.  Whether it was kings and queens or a superhero luncheons they were, for the most part, willing participants. Mariah might disagree since she spent much of her younger years as the prince, "Hand Lewis" (really Han Solo), or whatever other male character that Rachel dreamed up before the brothers were old enough to participate.

Is it wrong that Mary answered to Chewy or Chewbacca from she was 2 to about 5 years old?  That was always her role in the Star Wars plays.

As Rachel grew older her stage changed from the living room and backyard to a sketch book and computer screen. 

Now her imagination comes to life through the characters in her stories and drawings.  They have likes and dislikes, pasts, issues, hobbies, Facebook pages.  We had to have a "talk" when one of her friends was unknowingly flirting with a fictional character online.

It all rubbed off.

Sometimes, I wonder what the neighbors think.  What would you think if you drove by and a little ninja was scaling a pillar on someones front porch?  Or you looked out your window to see your new neighbors running around with painted hand prints on their faces like Orcs from The Lord of the Rings peering around the corners of the house.  Sometimes the kids remind me of the grandfather in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, dressed up in whatever appropriate garb and headed out to whatever imaginary world awaits beyond the front door.

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't change it.  Even when that wild imagination becomes a lot to manage -- and it does, even when I am tired and worn out; I would rather have that floating around my house than so many of the alternatives.  In fact, so many times when I am at the end of my rope or I've slipped off, it is that imagination that makes me laugh and puts life back in perspective.  It is wonderful, especially in a world where those simple parts of childhood seem to be slipping away.

Heaven knows the realities of this world take over soon enough.

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