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!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Role of a Parent in the Pursuit of Passion and Talent

I am not a soccer mom, I appreciate them, especially those that have their kids in year round leagues.  I admire their dedication to braving the elements, cut up oranges, Gatorade, and driving.  It's not that I wouldn't ever be a soccer mom it's just that my kids have never leaned towards those kinds of activities. In fact, I did a little time as a volleyball mom and little league mom.  I was almost a track mom, then my daughter came home totally disillusioned, "Did you know that you have to RUN in track?" I did, but apparently she didn't, what a rude awakening that was.

I am an art mom, art, film, acting, music, and almost any creative endeavor mom. I step over painting supplies, pick clay out of carpet, yell at those who would bump the camera, table or lights set up for stop motion.  I sit on set intolerably long periods of time, watch clips as they're edited together, give opinions, and ooh and aah at visual effects.  I read newly written poetry, short stories, and listen to endless ideas for future poetry, short stories, novels, film, and animation ideas.

Last night I caught my 14 year old son as he got out of the shower and told him he needed to remove the mascara raccoon eyes before bed.  That's a conversation that I never expected to have.  He's in his first stage play.  He's done some local commercials and short films but he's never had to wear heavy stage makeup before. 

Our kids, these amazing souls, are in our care as they develop. We, as their parents, have the responsibility of helping them discover who and what they are.  It's an important job, a hard job.  In fact, as parents, we set aside many of our own needs to make sure that we can help our kids develop in a healthy way.  When you have children who are wired differently, alphabet soup kids ADHD, ASD, SPD, ODD, or any of the other many disorders that change the way the brain receives, processes, and reacts to information everything we do as parents becomes more vital.  Helping our kids find and pursue their passions becomes even more critical to their development now and in their future.

Interests, obsessions, passions are not always where their natural talent lies.  Our oldest daughter wanted desperately to sing, over the years we worked out ways to get her vocal lessons.  To almost anyone who heard her sing early on this might have seemed like huge mistake.  As even she will tell you, she was awful, painful even.  But in pursuing a talent she wanted but was not naturally gifted at she learned some very valuable life lessons like dedication, perseverance, work ethic, sacrifice.  Recently, she was talking to one of her siblings about success, she was quick to remind him of how horribly she sang at first, how vital constantly working at what you want to be successful at is, and how it all turned out for her.  She has an amazing voice now and the life skills that she has learned getting that voice are not lost on her.  She understands how to set and achieve a goal.

at home ALWAYS "on"
Encouraging the pursuit of a passion can be hard, especially when dealing with the uniquely wired, because interest almost always equals obsession.  Obsession almost always equals being followed around day and night by a child who is absolutely fixated on one particular subject spouting facts, quoting, rehearsing, singing.  It takes a lot of patience to take in all they may be putting out.  Our now amazing vocalist, for example, sang nothing but Phantom of the Opera for a whole summer, 24/7.  She sang it so much that we weren't sure she actually talked at all that summer.  She sang it so much that her then 4 year old brother went to preschool one day, picked up his teachers hand and broke out into song, "Think of me, think of me fondly when we've said goodbye remember me once in a while please promise me, you'll try..."

It is tempting, as parents, focused on our children's future, to think only of whether a skill is going to be useful to them as an adult.  I remember a friend who was horrified by her 7th grade daughters ninja obsession.  She wanted nothing more than to shut it down.  It was an obsession shared by my daughter, her best friend.  According to the other mom I was not nearly horrified enough.  They read on the subject incessantly, they drew ninjas, watched ninja movies, even learned some marshal arts.  I wasn't worried about it, I knew it would pass but when I talked to the other mom she was afraid that if she encouraged it, if she didn't squash it immediately, that it might be all her daughter did with her life.  While it is true that our children, in the pursuit of their passions may stumble on what they may do for the rest of their lives most likely they will just explore many ideas, activities, hobbies, that will be fond memories and life lessons but not career paths,  As I told this mom, I feel safe in saying that neither girl would end up a ninja.  I was right.

In some cases, however, they may find their future.  That's not a bad thing.  Especially for kids with ADHD and other similar disorders, finding a career they are passionate about increases their chance of success as an adult.  The ADHD brain does not do well when it is bored, it does exceptionally well when it is stimulated by something it loves.

I watched my son on stage the other night, his lack of inhibition (fueled by his ADHD) filled the room as did the laughter when his physical comedy stole the show.  I saw him buzz with the exhilaration at the audience reaction.  It was his first stage play, he had never had a live audience to feed his energy before.  I saw his confidence swell.  He found a niche, certainly a passion. 

For kids that fight everyday to remember and process what they are learning in class, to remember to put their name on their papers, to remember to turn in their work, who feel different from their peers, who know they struggle to keep up and to fit in; finding their passion, their talent, their niche provides a critical sense of success and accomplishment.  It gives them a balance to their struggles, an edge, a path to success in the future. 

Will he be the next Jim Carey as the family in front of us proposed?  I don't know and for right now I don't care.  This passion is giving him insight, teaching him skills he will use in everyday life, building confidence, teaching dedication, work ethic, sacrifice, team work, and most importantly opening his eyes to his own possibilities.  We will support him in the pursuit of anything that teaches those lessons, brings him to that sort of positive place.

And at the end of the night we will laugh when his 4 older sisters try and help him get the mascara off while lecturing him on his new found appreciation for all that girls do to look beautiful.

* special thanks to my kids for collecting all the art and writing stuff in the picture and to Mary for taking it for me


Christa said...

Beautiful post. love the pictures. i would love to see your kids perform in person. maybe someday.

Zoë Kessler said...


Thank you SO MUCH for this excellent post! It was a joy to read and reminded me so much of what went wrong for me as a kid.

All I ever wanted to do was to be a writer (author mainly, I wanted first and foremost to write books).

I was told by my well-intentioned parents that that was all well and good, but that I'd have to get a "real job."

I know they meant well. I know they loved me dearly. I know they wanted the best for me. What we DIDN'T know what that I had ADHD, big-time. If only we knew then what I - and you - know now.

I think I've mentioned this before: I'm an adoptee. My parents have all passed away. Which pretty much means, I'm up for grabs! Whataddaya think? Can we roll back time and do it all again? I'd love to have 23 books instead of 2 out there (next one to be published Sept. 2013).

'Cause guess what I ended up doing? Writing books! As you so Aptly pointed out in your post, sometimes we passionate ADHDers DO find our life's passion, and if we are encouraged and supported, even if it seems like a pipe dream - by gosh, we have the spirit, intelligence, tenacity and passion to make any dream come true once we set our minds to it. I think your daughter's pursuit of singing clearly demonstrates that.

So, although I just bought my first house, say the word and I'll pack my bags... mom. Ha ha ha...


Lisa Aro said...

Christa - we are going to be starting a project soon that will allow you to see their cooky antics from anywhere via the internet!

Zoe - you are dearer and dearer to my heart with every post - pack your bags, Baby!