“Mom, I can’t believe she said that to me!” exclaimed my little guy from the backseat. “Who said what, Jack?” Now this is normal for 5 year old son, Jackson. It’s like he starts the conversation in his head and thinks I can hear it. “Abby, Mom! She told me “Why don’t you go play with your stupid blocks!” “It hurt my feelings so bad, Mom” and with that a sting right to my heart. “Why did she say that?” I asked very calmly. I instantly felt the desire to pull over the car and hug Jackson and tell him that she didn’t mean it, or that I’ll take care of it, but – as much as I wish it were that easy – I also know my son. His ADHD means that he can be impulsive, over bearing and one track minded. I know it can be difficult for him to bend to the ideas of others. I also know that his language skills are still behind and that can mean that he doesn’t get what he wants to say out quickly enough for other kids. I have to remind myself of who my son is because this Momma Bear, like all the rest of us, always wants to protect her cubs and right now all I wanted to know – who she was and where can I find her, but as Jackson’s Mom I have to try to make him understand why she may have felt the need to say in “kid speak”, albeit harsh “kid speak”, that she needed space and she didn’t want to do what he wanted to do again. I knew in my gut that’s what happened, I knew he had simply worn her out and didn’t understand that he was being “a little too much” as I’ve put it to others.
After some conversation with the staff at aftercare I found out exactly who she was and what I found out was that Abby was a 10 year old girl that Jackson had become very fond of. She and her other friend were consistently greeted off the bus by drawings made by Jackson as he waited for them to come to after school care. They were lovely girls and I knew this. I knew that although initially adorable, Jackson’s admiration and habitual works of art were probably wearing thin on them and he was becoming what most 5 year old boys are to 10 year old girls – annoying. I also know this because, even though I am his Mother and he is my everything, I know my son and I have been a VIP audience member to his dances, guitar concerts, and comedy shows with songs and jokes that are preformed 20+ times in a row, unsolicited and without a break. I admit that I’ve run to the bathroom, suddenly felt the urge to do laundry or suggested his favorite snack, just to get an intermission from the never-ending show. I spoke to the staff about the word stupid of course, that’s not acceptable, but I did ask that they perhaps find other things for Jackson to do so he didn’t overwhelm the girls. It’s not that the girls didn’t like him, or enjoy hanging out with him, but Jackson can be a lot sometimes. When his sun shines on you it shines bright and hot. He gives you his all and you need to wear sunglasses of tolerance and slather on SPF 70 of patience to get through it at times.
I speak to Jackson often about doing what other kids want to do, sharing ideas, being courteous. All of which I’m sure is heard and understood, but will no doubt be forgotten in the next impulsive moment with the life or death importance of being heard and with his desire to direct what’s happening. This loss of composure and internal control tends to supersede any lessons learned in the moments of calm. This is what it’s like with ADHD. Impulsivity and constant action overrides lessons learned and it must be reviewed all over again. I can only hope that each time we get a little closer to closing the gap of impulsive thought and internal control and one day, with maturity and constant reinforcement, he will be able control himself better. Of course, it will probably happen the day before puberty hits and then, from what I’ve been told, everything goes out the window and it’s all about survival and stinky armpits. Can’t wait.
Kimberly Sennes is a full time working mother of two happy, energetic, knucklehead kids. Her daughter, 8, bright, funny and strong willed girl who also happens to be non-verbal autistic and her son, 5, a smart, sweet, imaginative and quirky kid with ADHD. Her children have inspired her to work towards bringing awareness, compassion, opportunity and considerations for all special needs individuals. She’s been with her husband, one of the neighborhood boys, Andrew, since 1995 and lives on Long Island where she is involved with special needs groups both locally and regionally.