With Empathy and Numerous Hugs
It came this week: The first disciplinary call from my son’s school. For the first time, JJ has landed in great trouble.
Was it inevitable? Possibly. He had dodged this proverbial bullet for years, but this time he couldn’t escape the effects.
The incident? My son and his little friend Poppy (whom he will marry) have confessed to having vandalized a toilet.
Yes, you read that right.
I’m too appalled to give you all the graphic details, but toilet paper and flooding were at play. And apparently a lot of laughter.
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I am so shocked Everyone is shocked. The headmaster even said they were the last two she would suspect of doing something like this.
I know his ADHD impulsiveness had a huge impact on JJ’s behavior. But I can’t help but brood:
Am I technically a bad mom now?
Didn’t I teach him right from wrong?
Will he end up robbing banks?
Should I tell his father ???
And the biggest question: WHAT WILL I DO ??? Because as we all know, it’s completely up to me now. That is the mental burden.
I make my way to pick him up from the after-school care center (early because I don’t want this terrible day to drag on for both of us). I turn up inside. How can I address this with JJ? I know I have to get a grip on myself before we talk. I have to be calm and pretend I’ve pulled myself together. I can’t overreact, but what is the correct level of response?
[Read: Never Punish a Child for Bad Behavior Outside Their Control]
It is not neurotypical, so the usual parental responses will not work. And there is no backup instruction manual that I can find.
What I do know is that ADHD is about executive function and impulsivity, as well as big emotional responses. If I am ashamed of this incident, JJ will probably be a hundred times more embarrassed and ashamed.
So how do I deal with this situation?
I’m reading a very important, BIG book on ADHD that will surely have the answers somewhere in its 360 pages. But I’m only at chapter three and can’t read fast enough. I read five pages, put out a parent fire … read three more, go to work … tackle a few more pages after dinner, but my daughter needs help in the bathroom. That’s the way it is. By the time I finish a chapter, I’ve forgotten how it began.
When I pick up JJ, he looks happy as usual. Hmmmm.
We go to the car and I say, “I got a call from the director today.” He stays calm. “I know,” he replies. Then, forever the king of distraction, he directs the conversation to the craft in his hand.
I persevere. “I know what happened, JJ”. Silence again. “I’m not sure why you and Poppy did this – you usually don’t do such serious behavior. Can you tell me why you did it? “
“We had fun,” comes his small, gentle voice, “and I just didn’t realize it was wrong when we did it.”
It is my turn to be silent. He can probably hear my heart cracking, I guess.
“Well, it was very wrong, and you won’t do that again, will you?” He shakes his head. “And I’ll never get a call from the director again, will I?”
We continue. When he senses that the conversation has continued, his bounce returns and he continues chatting until we were in the car. I turn to look at him, “JJ, we need to talk more about this later, but now we’re not going to talk about today’s anger. Let’s go and work in the garden. I picked you up early so we could work in the garden together. “
And at that moment his little face sags and his bravery turns into sobs – those deep, sad sobs that come from a place of deep emotion.
“I thought you would pick me up early because you were really mad at me.”
Did you hear that? My heart just broke. I buckle my seat belt, open his door, and give him a tight hug.
How To Discipline Your Children With ADHD: The Next Steps
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