Life with ADHD isn’t impossible, it even has its upsides. I’ve spent the last 7 years learning more about what ADHD is and what it isn’t; how to help cope with the challenges and even how to have some glimmers of success. I’m grateful for this knowledge, and one day I’ll be grateful for the reason I needed to learn it. Unfortunately, that day is not today. Today I am frustrated. Today I feel inadequate. Today, I’m drowning in a pool of irritation and inability and it looks like this:
This was my attempt at explaining to my thirteen year old daughter this morning what she does that makes me and everyone else in our family so crazy. I was trying to visually show her what it feels like to talk with her.
There was an episode on the Brady Bunch years ago about living by exact words. Greg attempts to slip up his parents and get his way by pointing out how their exact wording didn’t account for his actions. The moral of the story/episode was living by exact words is dreadfully impossible and frustrating. Well, that is our most recent development hurdle with our ADHD daughter. She gets hung up on words. No matter what we say, she seems to focus on one word to argue over. To her conversational counterpart, this feels like she’s screaming a message of not listening. In this example, I’d be saying the phrase and she’d respond with an argument that it was more like yelling, singing, etc. and not talking; completely missing the forest for the tree and causing me to want to pull my hair out in frustration.
Admittedly, we got off on the wrong foot this morning. The first topic of study resulted in a push back and battle of wills. When I started pointing out some corrections on her creative writing project she bristled. I bristled back. After a few terse words and both of us verbally agreeing to start over and “fix” the problem. I moved on to the next lesson of format when writing quotes. First, she cut me off before I could finish what I was going to say. This didn’t lend well to fixing things and caused me an opportunity to rant on how frustrating it is to be interrupted, especially when she didn’t know what I was going to say. She thought I was going to point out grammar details like capitalization and quotation marks. I told her no, actually I was going to point out with the help of the current book she’s reading how conversation is written in paragraph form. She relented a little with a simple sorry. But the moment I resumed with an example she responded with a correction on an exact word in the example. Snap.
Now, in the time it’s taken me to write this, she’s continued through her own frustration. For the first five minutes I heard pounding on the keypad of her laptop and huge sights as she worked on her story and corrections. The next five minutes brought singing of music while she typed, and the following five a request to be done on this project and work on something else. She also sent me an instant message asking me to please forgive her for making me so frustrated and she was sorry. This is one of the great upsides of ADHD. In 15 minutes the world changes and all is right for her again.
This is when I am actually a bit envious of her abilities. To work through frustrations and confrontations so quickly and so completely, to forget everything that just made you so crazy so quickly…well, suffice it to say, I think this would be a wondrous gift!
While I don’t possess this ability, I can benefit from its contagious nature. My pool of frustration is on the decline and my breathing has normalized. I still worry that I can’t figure out how to penetrate that shell of understanding. I don’t know how to reach her and help her develop these life skills that are so critical to her future success. I worry that they will become permanent handicaps for her in her future relations and life experiences. I find a measure of comfort in remember past developmental hurdles and how I worried the same way then, but she did master many of the concepts and habits that I wasn’t sure she ever would. There is hope. There is always hope. For today that has to be enough.