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!