Adjusting Your Imaginative and prescient for a Youngster with ADHD
On a warm day recently, I looked out our kitchen window and saw my 8 year old son Race lying in our garden. He was peacefully watching a bird’s nest that we had recently discovered near the rafters.
In the middle of a busy Friday afternoon, the sight reminded me to take a deep breath and let the moment sink in.
When we first noticed the nest it contained four tiny eggs, and our family had been on the lookout for signs of new life hatching ever since. It was fascinating to me how the mother bird guarded her nest so protectively and fell to the ground when she felt that her eggs were threatened. We also marveled at her patience as she sat for hours giving warmth and nourishment to help her babies thrive. Since I had four young children of my own, I could relate to their protective instincts and their desire to feed.
The little lonely bird
Of all my children, Race was most fascinated by this natural wonder. He and my husband monitored the nest together from a safe distance so as not to disturb the small family of birds.
Recently three of the four eggs had hatched. The three newborns looked so vulnerable, with no fluffy feathers to keep them warm and their mouths wide open, depending on their mother to feed them.
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While the rest of us were tied up by the chicks, Race’s mind lingered on the lonely egg. He expressed concern and wondered why it hadn’t hatched with the others and what would happen if it didn’t.
Race’s questions echoed deep in my heart as I realized I had felt many of the same worries as a parent – worries about safety, retirement, and the future.
I thought about how this mummy bird might feel for fear that her baby wouldn’t make it. Maybe she felt guilty that she wasn’t giving her as much time and care as the others, or that everything depended on her and she had somehow failed. These feelings describe a stress that I have become all too familiar with, and I think many can relate to my story.
The best laid plans
Before I became a mother, I was told that parenting is full of surprises. I’ve found this to be absolutely true. For the past eight years, parenting has not been what I imagined it to be. My plan was to have two girls who played with dolls in the house and followed all the rules – you know, a bit like me.
[Read: Throw Out Everything You Assumed About Parenthood]
I remember panicking when our ultrasound showed a boy. I didn’t know what to do with a boy! (I still don’t.) But when I saw this precious dimple miracle looking back at me, I saw a piece of my heart outside of my body. Caring for a baby quickly revealed a love in me that I didn’t even know was possible. I felt that God had entrusted such a gift to me, and I was determined to take good care of His gift.
He would play dates, organic applesauce and just watch Baby Einstein. My plan seemed to work … until it didn’t.
I clearly remember what I said to a friend the day before Race turned 18 months old. “He’s such an angel. I get so angry when other babies are mean to him and take away toys and other things. “
The next day I saw my little angel take a toy from another child and run away.
He’s still running, and behind him are all of my parenting expectations.
Exceed my expectations
Considering that we called him Race, I should have expected some intensity and drive in the boy. But his energy level and behavior continue to dwarf and disarm all of my parental knowledge and resources.
We read the books. We tried the rewards and consequences. All. That. Things. We spoke to experts. And I prayed. Oh how I prayed All parents know how heartbreaking it is to see your child struggle and not be able to help them.
A few years ago Race was officially diagnosed with ADHD. The diagnosis came as no surprise and actually brought some relief. I let go of the guilt I was making myself and my husband for all the mistakes I thought we’d made. Instead of seeing Race and his behavior as a problem to be solved, my perspective changed. I now see my son for who he is: an amazing child with his own strengths and weaknesses.
I am beginning to believe that his energy, passion and leadership will be used in a positive way. Perhaps, most importantly, I stopped comparing him to others. His development may take a different path from that of other children his age, and that’s fine.
And about the bird’s nest in our back yard – the last time we looked there were four little chicks nested in it. Since then, these four chicks have learned to fly and have left our garden for adventure. I am confident that my four children will do the same.
Parent Expectations and ADHD: The Next Steps
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