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, May 23, 2012

My 3 ADHD Sons - Do the Laudromat

I wasn't totally taken by surprise when the washer finally died, spewing water everywhere.  It had certainly given all the signs of giving up and really what washer wouldn't .  The demands of washing clothes for a household of 9 is certainly taxing.  It's demise, however, left me in a world of hurt and with the very unwanted trip to the laundromat. We rounded up endless baskets of laundry, packed them in the back of our 15 passenger van, and headed out to do our duty.  We consisted of my oldest daughter, now 20, and my 3 sons, Fernando (who is 18), Hunter (13) and Jaren (11).  Hunter and Jaren both home school still and we decided to make this a field trip day.  As it turned out there were many lessons learned.

The boys had taken special care to load up all their clothes.  When we got to the laundromat they even put them into one big washer with a window.  They felt on top of the world as far as efficiency went.  I didn't get too picky about sorting colors and lights.  I figured getting all the dirty clothes in baskets that made it all the way to the laundromat and into a washer with soap and water was a pretty big accomplishment. They were proud and I was proud of them.

It didn't take too long, however, to figure out that something was amiss in the boys' washer.  One of them noticed a loud rhythmic thunking noise.  Another thought he saw something randomly hitting the big window that allowed you to peer into the washer as your load swished round and round.  They were transfixed.  What was it?  Who had left it in a pocket?  Was it ruined or ruining other items?  It was almost too much to bear.  They positioned themselves around the washer to try and catch a glimpse of the mysterious item.

They couldn't resist, it had to be debated.

Son #1 insisted that he had carefully checked ALL his pockets to make sure that nothing was ruined in the wash.  He understood the danger, he had washed more than one valuable and had learned his lesson.

Son # 2 pointed out that he doesn't need to put things in his pockets, he has a spy briefcase to hold his gadgets.  And he owns more than one messenger bag where he stores his pocket watches, rocks of great importance, keys, papers, mole skin notebooks, pens, books on ancient colloquial Chinese, and other items that one might store in their pockets.  He was simply too organized to have whatever it was banging around the washer be his.

It sounded like a rock, a pretty good sized one - looked like it might be grey.

Son # 3 had a totally different approach - and I quote, "It couldn't be something from my pocket because you know I only wear one pair of pants and I'm wearing them now, so it didn't come from my pocket." I only admit this so very publicly because I know I don't have the only child who is so emphatically obsessively attached to wearing one piece of clothing that getting them to change is like reversing the course of the Mississippi River.

It went on and on and then my two younger sons got bored watching the washer and started making the tiled floor into a life sized game board.  It cooperated nicely with random mixed colored squares breaking up the otherwise white floor.  Making up rules, arguing over what kind of game piece they were, counting out paces and spaces, moving forward, and getting sent back to square one.  The inventive nature of ADHD never ceases to amaze me - they can literally create an alternate reality, immerse themselves in it, and disappear in what seems like milliseconds to me.  Boring and ADHD don't mix well it begs the brain to set the imagination free.  Waiting is boring.

Son # 1 was hanging in there at the washer window.  It was not going to be something from his pockets.  He was well into a state of hyperfocus.  He was going to figure out what it was and prove that it was not his or maybe he was starting to worry that it could be his, either way it would not slip by him.  Alas the draw of the rolling laundry carts and an extended wash cycle proved to be too much for him.  I turned to see all three boys were lined up sitting on the folding table with their feet in rolling carts moving them forward and back - side to side.

They were saved from my "learning experience" on the appropriate use of rolling laundry baskets by buzzer as the washers finished one right after the other. Back to work we went switching one load after another to the dryers.

They say it all comes out in the wash and it certainly did.

Son #1 hadn't checked his pocket quite as accurately as he thought.  Sometimes they know when they're distracted and missing things and sometimes they just don't.  They think they are catching all the information, on top of the situation, and in control of the ADHD.  It has got to be one of the more frustrating aspects of the disorder.  Feeling you have it under control only to find out you don't.

And what was it?  He informed me it was his metal lighter.  What?  A lighter?  He knew that was a mistake the moment it left his lips - this the boy who can tell you exactly what color hand sanitizer burns on jeans because he set his jeans on fire while he was wearing them is forbidden to carry a lighter or matches.  He was quick to point out that my husband gave him permission to carry this one because there is NO fluid in it.  He set out to prove there was no fluid just a cool case to fidget with.  Harmless, definitely harmless, he pointed out. And clean of course, very clean.

We settled into the drying cycles and a new mental tangent - son #2 had take all the quarters, at least $20.00 worth, and was sorting out all the old coins and all the state coins.  Then begging me to not use any old coins or state coins so you can keep them for a new collection.  He collects pocket watches, bow ties, pennies, rocks and lots of other things of great importance.  I said no - we need those coins to get the laundry dry.  He pointed out that he would happily give up the newer coins and the duplicates.  He handed me about 8 quarters.  He begged.  Pleaded.  Insisted.  Finally he surrendered and looked at me like his whole life had come to a terribly tragic end.  Waited 30 seconds and tried again and again and again.

Have you ever noticed that the ADHD child who does not want to be redirected can stay focused forever.

All in all it took us about 3 hours at the laundromat.  It amazed me how in those 3 hours we covered so many characteristics of ADHD and the co-occurring conditions that run through the halls of our house.  Distraction, frustration, inability to admit that you're wrong, imagination, inability to wait, hatred of boredom, obsessions, inflexibility, hyper focus, alternate realities, impulsiveness.  One thing you can say about us - we are who we are wherever we are.  Sometimes we are in better control of all of it than others, but that's okay we are learning and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

We folded, loaded the baskets, and packed it back in the van.

* a special thanks to Rachel who humored me and sneakily took pictures every time I motioned for her to 

No comments: