Attention, Attention

Bits of desiccated mushroom are sprinkled on and around the microscope on the dining room table. A football and a squirt gun are abandoned there as well. A grey hooded sweatshirt jacket has been flung over the back of a chair, inside-out sleeves waiting to frustrate him in the morning. Math worksheets fan out from the edge of the navy blue homework folder.

Send him to his room on a simple errand, and his path along the way mimics Billy from the Family Circus cartoon strip–a series of dashes that loop around every distracting object in his path. On the stairs he’ll try on a stray glove. Then there’s that shiny blue truck he’ll drive up the railing. At the top of the stairs he’ll be faced with organized piles of yellow squares and green rectangles–adjusting a few pieces for his latest Lego creation. A book half-read is in an upside down V, the carpet serving as a bookmark. He might need to stop and read a few pages.

Where is your homework packet? Why aren’t you dressed? Did you brush your teeth? His days are filled with rhetorical, interrogative sentences.

ADHD has always been there, along with the social implications. The exasperated eye roll of the gymnastics teacher chasing my preschooler across the gym. Again. The whispering of dance moms as he interrupts the routine. Again. The bristling posture of the aftercare teacher who must report another behavior problem. Again. And the frequency of hearing his name called to attention by every coach, teacher, and instructor. Again, and again, and again.

With the start of every school year, it’s the same inevitable discussion. The first reaction is telling. Perhaps the eyes glaze over. Maybe they stare fixedly, trying not to roll. They might flit around the room while the head is nodding, already searching for an end to this conversation. Perhaps there is a list of student names on the desk sharing the same acronym. It becomes a cliche.

It’s an inevitable discussion, because it’s not parental pride at stake. As he navigates his world, his self-image will be marked by interactions with these grownups. I have to help them see beyond the daily annoyances and disruptions, so that they don’t just become reactionary forces in his life. I want them to view him through a different lens–one which can look past the incessant chatter, constant movement and wandering gaze. If they can see even a fraction of what I see…

And yet I sigh as I repeat myself each day. Where is your homework packet? Why aren’t you dressed? Did you brush your teeth? Again, and again, and again.