I was in the car with my 8 year old son this morning on the way to drop him to school. In the short 10 minute ride, his ADHD mind took me from perfect hairstyles for his waves and curls to new recipes he’d like to try when he opens his own “kitchen” next summer. He also talked about different ways he could get his friends interested in his latest toy subject. He had a plan for so many things.
But his plans were happening simultaneously. It was multitasking on a multi-core microprocessor level. He went so quickly I thought he would heat up and shut down, like my old Mac. I kept waiting for the abrupt blank screen.
And on these drives we have, I admittedly sometimes struggle with it. When I’m in rush hour traffic getting him somewhere, I don’t always enjoy hearing how Obama could take more authority to help people in XYZ ways, or we could get the toilet to flush more efficiently this way, or what do I think if he varies the current Pokémon toys just slightly to get a different customer base when he runs his own toy factory someday. And how about that ant poison recipe he wrote down in secret and made me promise to keep his formula safe? I can often be heard under my breath in a soft whisper: “Oh, God, please make it stop for second so I can drive. I can’t process this right now.”
But Little Man can.
He hears all of the signals of information at once, and from them, he brainstorms nonstop how to make the world a better place.
So, today, when I had a more leisurely drive, I listened better. I needed a full shot of espresso to keep up with him, but it fascinated me. And I suddenly didn’t want to stop him. I didn’t want to tune to just one channel of that amazing mind. I was greedy. I wanted all of his thoughts at once. I wanted him all ADHD-ed out, the pure, original him. For a few minutes, I think I was actually jealous—or at least deeply admiring.
I realize ADHD comes with its struggles and companion diagnoses. I know OCD, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities often hitch a ride with these phenomenal minds. We have our own struggles with the combo meal served up frequently with ADHD in our house, and they are not easy. If I’m honest, of course, I don’t love those obsessive, wigged-out moments. Not at all.
And I know the level of creativity and intellect can vary with each individual.
I also fully understand why teaching these jet engines can have its challenges, and I support the medication and strategies offered by specialists in the field, when used appropriately.
But I want to listen more when he rattles on without pause. I want to be his stenographer. I am curious which ones, out of the multiple scenarios, solutions, and thought processes going on in his head—if we write them down—stand a chance of being acted upon someday.
Some see it as “mind clutter.” I see it as him hearing the many ideas God gives him at full speed ahead. And I see him racing after them, with great joy at hearing all of that at once.
But the joy stops when he sits down to focus on math problems at a desk for solid amounts of time, or when there is a school assembly he has to be still for. At those moments, he needs to hear one frequency only. And that is very difficult.
But there is a very happy, Tigger-y* bounce when he can be fully himself and run wild after the wind, with God whispering gusts of incredibleness straight through his mind. And his mind can keep up with it all, unlike mine, which would need a butterfly net to hold on to all of those thoughts at once.
And in the moments when we can, I choose joy for him. His jumble of thoughts propels him forward; it excites him about life and everything there is to discover and create. To take that from him all of the time is to erase shades of Little Man—and I love him bursting forth in full color.
For more on viewing ADHD as a blessing in disguise, refer to:
Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey
Our personal journey through ADHD, OCD, depression, and anxiety can be read about more in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.
*The Tigger tiger of Winnie the Pooh fame