I told him he was handsome and he told me he wasn’t sure. I told him he was special and he shook his head. His eyes downcast, he thought about my words. I saw the way his eyes rushed around the room, moving like sparks of lightening but seeing nothing. He was deep inside his mind, with my words and his own. Inside his mind our words danced face to face. He said nothing. His eyes returned to me, seeing my face and he shrugged. In his mind the words I gave him were still roaming, in search of a place to sit. When I told him he was very smart, he gave me a list of things he had yet to learn. My words again went into the warehouse of his mind, and found no place to rest. Inside his mind, a game of musical chairs played out. Imagine there are 5 chairs in a small circle within the mind of my seven year old son. Each chair has been claimed. Then, I add a new player. My new player is an expression of positive affirmation. The new player enters the game, and has no seat. The game begins. The music starts and the others get up and circle the seats. The other players are not like the new player. The other players are doubt, fear, worry, disappointment and sadness. When the music stops, my son has to decide who gets a seat, and who does not fit. Time and time again, my words of affirmation are left without a seat, and the game is over. This is what happens in the mind of my child with ADHD. Meanwhile within my chest, my heart breaks again and again for him. They called him defiant, disruptive, unruly, stubborn, and bad and those words each found a seat within him. Ask him what he thinks of himself and those words will parade out of his mouth in a declaration of self-destruction and shame. He did not do this to himself. His mind is a wide open field of discovery, endlessly in search of something new. He is amazing. Facts and numbers enter the stream of his thoughts and return in perfect order. Questions pour out of him and answers absorb back in. He is happy when he is learning, and he is perfect. One day the game of musical chairs will begin to change. One day when the world opens up to allow him the freedom to be himself, he will let go of those hopeless words and mine will sit in their place. He is good, he is smart, he is handsome and he is loved. ADHD is a diagnosis, not a curse. ADHD is a condition not a limitation. Encourage your children, help them to replace the negativity in their minds, with the love and affirmation they truly deserve. Be the voice that speaks louder than the doubt. Be the smile that covers them. The music is playing, change the game.
“Reach up high for the warmth of the sun, and pull it down. Put it right into your belly anytime you need it, you are amazing and very smart”.
T hears this first thing in the morning as he follows along with his Yoga Kids DVD.
Yes, my hyper-active, wildly imaginative, creative, talkative, loud and silly child does yoga! I won’t lie to you and say he does it with 100% accuracy and enthusiasm every day, or tell you that I don’t sometimes have to prod him like cattle to get him to even try. What I will tell you, is that it changed things for us!
I was always a bit turned off by yoga as a concept. Normally, when my mind is made up about something, there is little to no hope of that changing, but luckily for us, yoga was an exception to that rule. It seemed so pretentious to me, with its own clothing style and sweaty, headband wearing, bandwagon followers stretching and contorting themselves into pretzel knots. I’m fairly certain I have wrinkles from the face I made anytime I saw someone who was clearly a “YOGI”. A sneer and an exaggerated eye roll was standard procedure…. And then there was T.
T needed change. T needed hope. Hell, I needed hope!
When a co-worker and nurse suggested Yoga as an ADD/ADHD treatment, I politely scoffed, gave my list of reasons why that would never work for him, and thanked her for her suggestion. Later that week I had a change of heart. I realized I was denying T the opportunity to experiment because of my own illogical, unreasonable dislike of something I, myself, had never tried. I conceded and made a trip to Barnes & Noble where I bought a 2-disc DVD set. YOGA KIDS with Marsha Wenig. I had taken the first leap into the world of YOGA.
If I was going to do this, I was going to go all in! We would do it together.
The first DVD titled ABC’s claimed to be aimed at kids 3-6 years old. Surely it would be a breeze for me. I enlisted the support of my older two children, who agreed to participate in support of their brother. This was turning into a family affair, how wonderful!
5 minutes later there is an 8 year old panting, lying defeated on the mat, a 10 year old with gritted teeth and one leg shaking in the air, a 6 year old with both feet and hands on the mat and bottom in the air, and me. I was near death. I couldn’t breathe, my arms felt 200 lbs each, and my legs just did not bend the way they were supposed to. Ages 3-6.
Thankfully in our bloodline, quitting is not an option. DVD 2 Silly to Calm began. We started by Shaking the sillies out, dancing and pausing to the beat of the music, and “untying the knots” of our joints from head to toe. By the end of this DVD, T was doing something remarkable! As I laid in silence listening to my breathing, watching calm deep breaths rise and fall in my chest I noticed something; silence. How long ago had he left the room? Did I really just do 30 minutes of yoga for babies alone? Was I that easily amused? I looked to my left, where he was supposed to be, and in his place was this calm, almost motionless, silent child who was breathing and watching his chest rise and fall with his breath. My T had gone from silly to calm. I couldn’t believe it.
That was the moment I gave in. Yoga was welcome in our home, in fact if Yoga tried to leave I would have grasped desperately at its pant-leg, planted my heels in the ground and begged it to stay!
I have to admit, I have grown to love and respect this strange, and surprisingly difficult exercise. T still does yoga as often as I can fit it into our routine. Some days he participates better than others, but I’ve come to realize that even partial participation counts.
After 1 week with yoga twice a day T’s behavior in school skyrocketed! He was earning A’s and B’s in conduct and he was proud of himself!
So let them laugh at me. Let them snicker and sneer in my direction when I’m walking out of the sporting goods store with a new Yoga mat, Yoga shorts and a big inflated yellow ball. Let them laugh at me when I fall from my not so graceful warrior pose, or knock the wind out of myself attempting a head-stand that turns into a surprise front flip. Let them laugh at me. Because I’m laughing too! I laugh when I see that amazing boy of mine concentrating on his balance, or his breathing. I laugh when I walk into the room and the peaceful silence washes over me. I laugh when he quotes the DVDs word for word because he’s done them so many times. I laugh because I’m thrilled. T has gained something immeasurable that truly helps him, and I get to feel proud of myself as his mom. That is amazing!
He counts everything. He listens to conversations he shouldn’t hear. He debates most of what is said to him.
T was noticeably different from my other 2 children from the day he was born. I just didn’t know it then. His need for affection was apparent by day 3 of his life. He needed to feel my touch, constantly. He held my hair when skin was not available to him. I was not prepared for him.
By age 2, he was a storm. He rattled the windows of my life. Ever craving, he grew to aggressive levels of affection. Little arms tried to strangle with every intense hug. Little mouth pressed powerfully against my cheeks. Little legs ran as soon as they could walk and wrapped themselves around mine, as I tried to walk past him. Little Storm T was a whirlwind. A beautiful, happy, loving wind that whipped around my face and danced at my legs day after day. I was not prepared for him.
I was not prepared for the sleepless nights that came with him. The first 9 months of nursing him meant being up every 2-3 hours, without fail. I was not prepared for the day he chose table food over breast milk. I was not prepared for the health issues he would have when he was 4, and his tonsils began to grow and block his airways. I was not prepared to sleep with my hand on his chest, shaking him when his breathing stopped, 10 or more times a night for 2 months. I was not prepared to kiss him goodbye when the doctors said it was time, and they wheeled him away for surgery.
I was not prepared for the ADHD diagnosis in Kindergarten.
I was not prepared for his level of intelligence.
I was not prepared to change everything for him and then change everything again
This is my life with my son T. I am not prepared, and that’s ok. I have never been prepared for this child, and it has taken me 7 years to realize the benefits of not being prepared.
T brought me back to life the day he was born and has kept me alive every day since. T is incredible. He has been the reason behind my doubts, my fears, my triumphs and my feelings of failure for 7 years, 2 months and 20 days. He is no more or less than any other child is to their parents, he is his own kind of perfect.
Not being prepared for him protected me from being afraid of him. Not being prepared kept me from over analyzing each step on this journey. Not being prepared for him makes life interesting, fast-paced and exciting.
Were you prepared for your children? Did they seem to fit effortlessly into the space you laid out for them? I had this feeling of fitting with my first 2 children. Round hole-round peg. Square hole-square peg. Then came T.
Round hole- unicorn.
Being a parent is not a job! Parenting cannot be experienced via books or research. It is an ongoing learning lifestyle that needs room to bend, structure itself and re-structure itself. If you find yourself today a manic mom, a doubting dad, or calling yourself a failure, be glad! Your failures are where the learning begins. You are capable, strong and in control. Accept your children for who God created them to be, love them despite all of their needs and lacking and fight for them as a raging army against the destruction of their precious and enormous little hearts! You are not prepared. That’s something to celebrate!
Our little T has a grasp on the world we live in, as much as can be expected of a 7-year-old with ADHD. He is still learning all of the social and governmental rules we abide by, but even in his most grounded moments he keeps at least a few toes outside the box playing with the air.
We live in a world of conformists. Afraid to clap when the room is silent, afraid to stand when others are seated. We are hard-wired to conform, we don’t push the limits.
T goes out hunting for the limits, and not only does he push them but he questions them, he analyzes them. He spends most of his mental time living outside the box.
If you’re like most parents, you spend your life leading these tiny, helpless, blank-slate humans into adulthood, believing you are doing your best, and always doing what’s best for them. In our confidence as adults, we make the decision (sometimes without realizing it) that the best thing for our children is to teach them to conform. To live inside the box. Be quiet when others are quiet, speak when you are spoken to, follow directions, walk the line. Because I said so.
Inside the box there are rules, standards, expectations and one set of facts to live by. But what do you do when your child refuses to live within the borders of that box? If you’re like me, you panic. You question your abilities as a parent, you doubt your strengths and magnify your failures. As a parent we become frantic with the thought that our child may be ostracized, cast out, labeled, discarded, or fail. They stumble, they fall, and we carry the weight of it.
We have all come to know that no two people are alike, however, we do expect most people to be similar. Why? Because we are comfortable with what is familiar. Though we may all have differences, we share many similarities that help us live in society together. When someone stands out from the norm, typically they are regarded with at least some hesitation and cautious curiosity.
Many ADD/ADHD kids are outside the box thinkers. Their reasoning, logical, creative and analytical minds stray from conventional thinking almost as soon as they have a thought. I have come to realize that this is an incredible strength for them!
Imagine being in a room with 100 people with like-minded thinking abilities. A problem is presented and despite following the tried and true methods of calculation, no solution can be found. Conformity would have trained us to stop at that point. After the angles we know have been covered, all options have been exhausted. Now, try that with a group of Outside-the-box thinkers, and instead of a room of stumped brains, you’d end up with several creative (though maybe not probable) hypothesis. The worst that can happen at this point is failure, and THAT is where the learning takes place!
We need outside the box thinkers. If you have been lucky enough to be gifted with this kind of amazing minded child take a deep breath! Your child is not flawed, not disabled, and not difficult. Your child is capable of more than you may realize, and you now have the honor of pulling out his/her gifts, abilities, and strengths and learning to work with them!
Be proud of your family, in all of its differences. The difficulty we face as parents of a child with ADD/ADHD are meaningful difficulty! It means something that we are fighting for our children. It means something that we life in a state of trial and error. It means something that we try so hard to make room for them in this crowded world of conformity. It means that no matter the hardship, we do not give up. So be proud of yourself parents! You are amazing!