Monday, April 23, 2012
Understanding My Daughter
I am dreading the teen years with my daughter. For many reasons. She is already madly in love with a boy in her class. In addition to typical teen girl angst, drama, crushes and mood swings, we will be dealing with her ADHD. Diagnosed in 2nd grade, it has been a roller coaster. Medication has not helped tremendously. Listening, focusing, paying attention, sitting still are extremely difficult for her. She will sit for 2-3 hours reading a book. But, getting her up, dressed, fed and out the door to catch the school bus is an exercise in frustration. Patience and reminders are needed in huge quantities. We hand her clothes to put on and she dances around. We put her breakfast on the table and she stares out the window. Tell her to brush her teeth and she stands there looking at the kitchen sink. Tell her to put her coat and shoes on and we find her wandering around the house like she is on a scavenger hunt. She is always moving, fidgeting, twirling, dancing or skipping. Cute, at times. Irritating at others. If we tell her to go upstairs to get something, we will find her playing Legos or reading a book. She is the world's youngest absent-minded professor. Most days, getting homework done is not a huge problem. Other days, I feel like strapping her to a dolly with a face mask and straight jacket a la Hannibal Lecter. Sunday was one of those days. Her homework took 3 times longer than it should have. I am the complete opposite of my daughter. Friends and family accuse me of "flitting". I call it "quirky OCD". Incomplete or unfinished tasks eat away at me until they are completed. I thrive on the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a task. I breathe a little easier when there is no clutter, no bills to be paid, dishes to put away. I cannot sit down and relax until I get everything done. I cannot start a task then walk away. I hate the idea of something hanging over my head, waiting to be completed. Dishes in the sink must be dealt with immediately. I've learned to never try to rearrange a few things in a closet late at night. The entire contents come out, get reorganized and put back. Laundry must ALL be folded and put away. I cannot clean just one kitchen counter. They all must get scrubbed. I can't stand clutter of any kind. It physically bothers me. My husband has to hide his mail piles from me or they get purged. Sara does not even notice clutter. Her desk, night stand and dresser all resemble the leaning tower of Pisa, but made out of books, toys, puzzles and paper. Her coat and shoes land by the front door in a haphazard pile rather than the closet. Sara starts a project but walks away as soon as something else catches her eye or fancy. She is a smart, funny and imaginative girl. She is bright and perceptive beyond her years. Yet, her ADHD makes her seem younger and more immature at times. Despite all the media surrounding ADD and ADHD, people in general are not very understanding. They think she is spoiled and indulged. They think we are not firm enough. If she had a physical disability, they would be more patient and understanding. I find myself impatient and frustrated with her sometimes. But, I have to take a deep breath and overlook the clutter. She is a whirling dervish. She is kind, funny, ironic, sensitive, fiercely loyal and caring. I need to remember that she is the sum of her parts. And love all parts of her.