I have to pause sometimes at School Return Time when I’m low on sleep and trying to track with the beautiful ADHD brain that comes home and pitches 1,000 ideas to me at once.
It’s a fascinating mind that can do this. He has my utmost respect and admiration,
I have to remind myself to be fully present.
- To not just “uh-huh” him, to engage with follow-up questions
- To acknowledge a few of those ideas
- To affirm that his heart to publish a series of 11 dog adventure stories (with a bubble on the jacket to market my book, LOL–his idea–he even asked me first!) is seen for the kind intentions that go with it
Too many “stop it, slow down, pay attention, settle down, be still”s in his day already. Someone needs to plug in and hear what he is really saying. For anyone who loves a special mind out there, here’s something we must be careful of: Monitoring our own frustration levels and responding to a few of those brain races can make a significant difference in those children feeling heard.
The busy, quick-motion ADD/ADHD mind can feel unheard much of the time. Some of it is how they are wired: We might respond, but the ADHD child is already moving on to the next 12 things before he/she gets an answer.
My goal isn’t to be a perfect listener. I couldn’t fully track with the Tigger mind in my house despite my best efforts. But I can do a very simple thing: I can listen for the theme of the moment, and I can respond.
And I can dwell on why living with Tigger is a precious gift that teaches me more about myself and about life than I would otherwise know.
So, here are my Top 10 all-time favorite reasons why I love living with my bouncy-minded, springy-bodied child…
10. ADHD Super Powers. Jump-dancing to a real beat in his head while doing a fluoride rinse while brainstorming ideas for his next dog book while smiling at us while shaking off hair from the haircut I just gave him while humming = ADHD Super Powers, and ADHD Super Powers are to be envied and admired.
9. Multitasking Visionary. He brainstorms like a beast, furiously scribbling down ideas in artwork and words. He’s a visionary who plans to save birds from other animals getting them, run a toy factory, and patent his ideas on how to make and market ant killer before someone else figures out his formula—all at the same time.
8. Fast-Talker. Talking swiftly is an art form to him. He has perfected the art of race conversation. I can’t in any way keep up with it, not even with New York’s finest taxi cab drivers jumping on the highway that is his mind, but I am forever in awe of it. Incessant chatting is also our first clue that attending (focus) is going AWOL. It’s a red flag we’ve grown to appreciate before the spiral into anxiety.
7. The Absent-Minded Professor. Picking up clothes and reminder lists? Who needs to do that when you’re already thinking about ten adventures you’d like to have in the next five minutes? While the rest of us appreciate when he stops leaving evidence of himself draped across all surfaces, there is something to be said for rockin’ it carefree and using the mind for other pursuits.
6. Spontaneity. He’s fun to be around because you never quite know what will come out of his mouth, and it’s often very funny. And yes, sometimes, it’s so impulsive, it’s embarrassing, but I’m learning to be that way too—less uptight and more spontaneous—and I don’t have ADHD. Maybe we’re all more fun now because of Tigger—yeah, I’m pretty sure we are.
5. “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers Is Tiggers Are Wonderful Things!”* Stairs, couches, and items jumping off of stairs and couches are meant to be enjoyed with enthusiasm and Tarzan-like agility. Why be boring and walk, stride, or amble, when you can bounce indiscriminately all over the house, furniture, wooden and concrete structures, etc.?
4. Practicing Still. No efforts are small. Even the frustrating moments before a timed math test are huge, but in the attempt to decrease distraction, we learn to be more still as a family during times of concentration—not all of the time, but enough to remind ourselves that quiet can be good. We don’t need noise all of the time. Tigger has plenty of that inside his brain. And we all have more than we need of that in our daily lives. “Still” doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we treasure it, and we learn to practice it. And when “still” doesn’t go as planned, we bounce as we process a thought because “the wonderful thing about Tiggers is…” (refer back to No. 5).
3. Celebrating Small Moments. There is victory in not reading the same sentence over and over again and being able to move on to the next one. Focus and concentration are not taken for granted when they don’t come easily, and Tigger is open to celebrating small moments in big ways. We define success differently because of him. It has softened our edges and has made us more understanding of the different forms that accomplishment and achievement can take.
2. New Vocabulary/Keeping Positive. We are learning to take “Be still!” “Sit still!” “Focus!” “Pay attention!” and replace them with words that have more meaning for someone who can’t do those things. We’re learning: “You can do this.” “Take a deep breath.” “One piece at a time.” “I love your mind.” “Wow, great job sticking with the worksheet until you finished it.” Can’t we all use a retake on some of the things we say regularly? Tigger makes us more mindful of what comes out of our mouths.
1. Loud, Risk-Taking Love. Everything about Tigger feels like a loud explosion sometimes: the emotions, the frustrations, the perseveration, the energy level, and the noise. But he also oozes grace and compassion because he knows what it’s like to sit with a weighted lap pad or on a yoga ball at school, to be called out of class for services, to need extra time to process a test, to be told endlessly to start his work. He knows that unwanted spotlight, the pain of disappointing adults over and over again for not meeting expectations, and the longing to not be different. So when another kid is struggling, he has compassion radar the likes of which would shame the best of clergy. He gets it. And he loves deeply, risking big emotionally just as he does in almost every other area of his life to get that intense feedback. He feels in big ways.
Tigger loves out loud, and I can’t imagine not getting to have a front-row seat to that. It’s an incredible honor and a privilege.
These are my particular top 10. What are some of yours about your own Tigger, or, if you have a child/loved one with different struggles, how have you caught glimpses of the blessings inside the challenges? What has he/she taught you that has changed the way you view and approach the everyday?
I’d love to hear from you!
*”The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” was written by Richard Sherman.
More blogs about our journey to loving ADHD can be found here (click and scroll down). The beginning of our ADHD journey (and how our faith in Christ brings us much peace and strength through each challenge) can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.