My husband and both of my sons have ADHD. It often makes life very trying, it can certainly be frustrating, but there are moments of lightness and humor that are pretty fun, too.
1. They think I am unusually smart because I can remember stuff that they haven’t even thought of since it flickered off the screen of their attention span. Sometimes, as a Mom and wife, this works out to my advantage – I can play head games on the unwary, swearing up and down that they really did like stuffed green peppers the last time I served them, although I always give myself up as a prankster after poking at them a few times. I have been dubbed the family Oracle because I remember what the dentist said to them the last time they went, where they probably left their shoes, and why so-and-so is no longer speaking to them.
2. They are very forgiving. They don’t remember what the hell they were supposed to be mad about unless it was truly huge and/or they did something to lock it in their memory cells. Before any of them were diagnosed, I used to think they had more grace and kindness than anyone I’d ever met. Now that I know they’re just senile as all hell, I still like to think of it as grace, merely unintentional grace, and it gives me an example to follow in my own mind.
3. They are very energetic. Sometimes this gets bad or annoying when it hits the frenetic stage. Other times it works out pretty well for me because I could easily slide into a state of permanent mediation and physical indolence, which would cause me to be mistaken for a large piece of damp laundry occupying couch space. Having a son or husband twitter through the living room, inciting small mayhem or a desire to sally forth and DO something is a good thing.
4. Their needs for tangible materials to cope with their memory/attention problems has made me more reliable, more organized and more receptive to using the same or similar strategies. When my husband and I were first married, I couldn’t believe how horrible his time sense was. I got him a better watch, a pocket calendar, a wall calendar, and finally, over the years, he added in his own reminder computer programs, little pocket doo-dads and the like to help him remember important dates and appointments.
When the kids headed off to school and we went through the forgotten homework, books, assignments, and so on, I was the first Mom to insist on a Day Planner for the kids, follow-up homework hotlines, the option of an extra set of books for home, and to drive, with unrestrained fervor, the first 504 plan for an ADHD kid through the local school system. Assignment books and follow up methods are now de rigueur for all kids in the schools.
I decided, about 6 years ago, that between doctor appointments, following up on homework assignments, and various activity meetings, I needed a day planner, too. I am never without it now, and I’m glad I got one. When I started having to remember things for not just the five of us, but also for my Dad, it became crucial, particularly for scheduling his medical appointments, which sometimes need to be done a year in advance.
5. I’ve gotten incredibly good at estimating time myself in order to teach my kids how to estimate preparation time for getting to school or other appointments without having to dash out the door, already late, with their pants unzipped and wearing only one sock. I also clock durations, so that I can use actual data in future estimates or even in arguments with them. They hate that, in a kidly way. No more can they argue that they can’t possibly do the dishes because they have a date – I ask what time the date is, then inform them that if they will quit whining, they can get the dishes done in 13.5 minutes if they focus, have time for a quick shower – 8.5 minutes, get dressed – 5 minutes for the boys, 12 for my daughter, and still have time to drink a glass of milk before they leave. And they’ll be on time. They give me the look. I return it, raising it one set of maternal eyebrows and adding that they’ll also be in my good graces if they get hopping.
I usually win, and they love me anyway – because they can’t remember how many times I’ve pulled the same damned stunt on them!