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 22, 2013

Do as David Boreanaz Says - NOT as I do

If I thought there was any chance at all that David Boreanaz would actually see it or read it I would send the man a thank you note for his wonderfully insightful commencement address to the students of Ithica College.  He said, what I truly believe, every good parent wants their child to hear, to know, to internalize, and live their life by. He certainly said what I want my children to live by and what I believe in my heart is essential for them to understand as individuals that break the mold of normal, who think differently, who combine limitless energy and creativity with great intelligence in the pursuit of paths that are truly less traveled.

I was introduced to the show Bones not too long ago when my world came to a screeching halt with a long bout of pneumonia. It was my husband and children who encouraged me to watch it. I fell in love with it, in fact it may be the only TV show that I have ever fallen in love with.  Now they tease me because I follow the actors and actresses, the writers, and every bit of news I can find out about it. I became equally interested in the lead actor, David Boreanaz, as I watched interviews etc. because his energy, playfulness, impulsivity, and creativity reminds me of my children. I like finding successful adults who I can see my children's attributes in - it gives me hope that all the work and effort I put into raising mine will one day end well.  I like to see what has contributed to their success and hope to instill those principles into mine while they are still young and learn ways to encourage them as they grow older and struggle in a world that pushes for conformity rather than individuality.

early play
The commencement address given by David Boreanaz is great motivation and direction for young adults and adults; a pep talk before the big game, a reminder of what to seek and how to seek it to get the most out of life. It is also a great playbook of lessons to teach children as they grow up so that those messages are instilled in them from an early age. Whether you have children that are "normal" or kids like mine these messages are important. But when you have kids that march to the beat of their own drum, brake all the molds, and never knew there was even a box to think outside of these messages are critical.

One of the first things Mr Boreanaz laid out in his address was the importance finding your own authentic existence. To me he was saying find and own who you are, at your core. All of us have strengths and weaknesses it is not until we figure them out, until we own them, that we can begin to capitalize on our strengths and conquer our weaknesses.

He says he came by his authentic self through the honest process of play, "I cannot tell you the amount of times I spent and hours and the lives I lived among the gas cans and snow shovels and snow tires playing with those puppets and doing skits with my sisters. I learned early on that playing is so important...remember to play."

still playing
Play comes naturally to our children. In fact, they have played long beyond the age that society says they should and until I was listening to this talk and considering this post I never connected the absolute importance of it.  Next time I am complimented on the creativity, the talent in music and acting, their writing abilities, or what great artist they are and someone asks me how they all ended up so talented I know what to say.  Thank you, they are this way because we have always encouraged them to play.  And when my oldest, who has had such a wrestle with the notion of leaving childhood behind, is frustrated in her search for her path, I will remind her that growing up, when done right, does not mean you can no longer play. In fact, given her talents and desires playing may be the key to her

Play, of course, must be combined with work to add up to progress. And work, the many jobs we hold on the path of life add dimension and experience to who we are.  David Boreanaz talked of the many jobs he held on the path to becoming what he is today and how those jobs worked for him in the end. He spoke of how each of those jobs helped him in his search for his authentic existence.  Some were, "tough...you guys have to work," he advised, "you have to earn it. No one is going to give you anything in this life. You have to earn it."

In a world where everything comes instantly it is hard for this generation to see that between steps A and step Z is a whole alphabet of experience. If we were to skip the experiences we skip all the wonderful stories and character they bring into our lives.

"laughing is essential." says David Boreanaz, "Laugh in your journey, laugh at yourself." I think I might have this one put on a plaque in my living room. Humor is critical to surviving the stresses and trials of life.  It is one thing that has made our family successful and saved us - otherwise the complete amount of chaos in this house would push us all over the mental edge. We have so many contradictory traits clamoring over each other, so much impulsivity, no filters on actions or mouths, people who need quiet and those that want everything loud, emerging social skills (and I use the term loosely) if we could not laugh at our weaknesses we would never have to strength to conquer them.

Get off the couch he advises, "it took an earth quake to get me off that couch." Taking charge of our lives and where we going takes effort and comes with risk and fear. Here, here is where I stumble, personally, and where I got the title for this post.  Mr Boreanaz says, "you see fear is a great motivator. So be uncomfortable, its okay, it gets you off the couch." And where I can say I have worked hard to instill these wonderful messages in my kids, whether I understood there relevance or not. I cannot say that I have been a good example of facing and conquering fear.  While Mr. Boreanaz seems to have a great relationship with fear I fall prey to it. While it is his motivator it is most certainly my captor, I think there might even be some water boarding involved. One of my greatest fears would be that while I tell my kids to take risks and not to let fear stop them they see that my example is just the opposite of my words.

In using the wonderful story Where the Wild Things Are (a family favorite in our house) he comes to a most beautiful conclusion saying, "there are so many malicious beasts at work in the world...the most destructive of all are the monsters born out of our own insecurities, you know them, its the negative messages that we give to ourselves. I can't do this. I'm going to fail. I'm not good enough. Don't listen to them...block them out...you can tame those thoughts. Don't be afraid. Fear blocks faith in yourself. it blocks your ability to love, it blocks out the sun if you let it ... be fearless."

And of course facing your fears brings you full circle to that search for your own self, your own story, the life you build and make and live. He says, "really living is the art of cutting through all the distractions of the day, finding a calm place in your head and your heart and getting to that core of yourself where you are most vulnerable and then own it."

This commencement address seemed perfectly timed.  It seems like for quite a while now we have been in a conversational rut with one of our older children. She tells us how frustrated she is with life and that it isn't progressing towards the end she really wants it to be going.  She points out how all of her friends lives are going places and how they are all doing things. She lists all their accomplishments. She laments that maybe she should take a different path, a more practical path like her friends.  She then sobs, real tears, over the path that she would abandon to be more practical.  I tell her to walk her own path, to recognize that her path
is different and different is good. I tell her to own who she is to not get lost in who other people are or distracted by what they are doing.

And after I listened to this address I said to her, "you HAVE to watch this, this was for you." I wanted her to hear someone else, who has lived a big life, tell her to trust herself, that authentic self that she has tapped into but is afraid to follow and act upon so she can live the big life she knows is inside of her. I wanted her to hear these powerful words that Boreanz spoke, "trust that what you love doing the most is what you're meant to do."  I wanted her to hear, not just listen, but hear him make this simple but beautiful comparison, "the dance floor of life is yours for the taking. Get out there, learn the moves, remember to strap on shoes that fit you, it's very important, not the ones that are perfect for someone else. Your turn on the dance floor, it won't be a minute waltz, more like a dance marathon."

And to her fear and mine he spoke, "You're going to make mistakes. Make them big, make huge mistakes, learn from your mistakes. You're going to get sidetracked, everybody gets sidetracked you might even get cancelled, don't take it personally please just get back out there because you know what, if you make it through season two they just might give you guys a spin off."

ADHD, dyslexia, SPD, dyspraxia, anxiety, OCD, dyscalculia, ODD, ASD depression they are all diagnosis, definitions, and parameters that help me understand the way my children think and how the way they are wired affects their actions.  When I say I wouldn't change those things about them if I could, I mean it.  They are amazing.  They are destined to live big lives and do great things using their unique perspective, their intelligence, creativity, energy, impulsiveness, imagination and more to change the world. Unique creative thinkers require unique and creative parenting. That is my passion, my children. I am certainly a work in progress myself  so for now I will say to my kids, you have to watch this, with the same enthusiasm and excitement  that they told me I had to watch Bones. I will sit them down and say listen to this, this is true and then I will add, "do as David Boreanaz says and I will try to also."