Yet Mom, obviously gifted with this very same condition, never acknowledged my ADHD. (Whether she declined to do so in squirming shame or honest disbelief, we will never know. Mom’s been gone five years now.) She absolutely refused to accept any responsibility for being a carrier of the code. Indeed, she quickly mastered the art of re-directing talks that arose about this disorder.
An actual verbal exchange between the two ADHD-sharing generations
Mom: “You, son? ADD? You do not have ADD!”
Me: “Uh, Mom, it’s ADHD … and could we not go into this right now?”
Mom: “Well, you don’t. That’s just an excuse for all your misbehavior.”
Mom considers the doctor’s diagnosis to be a modern version of the claims offered by snake-oil salesmen in frontier days. I believe the diagnosis holds the key to my bothersome inability to concentrate on one thing at a time … to see a project through, from start to completion, in one smooth process.
I presume Dad, my logically thinking, metallurgical engineer-schooled parent, is not likely to be the genetic culprit in this case.
Mom and I are hard-headed, both passionate about protecting the view we’ve each expressed. Neither wants to be the first to back down. (Say, this sounds a bit like last week’s column and Barry’s standoff with the hammerheads.)
In time, however, the harmonious combination of loving mother and obedient son wins, calming and restoring family peace. We resume a light exchange of free and caring dialog with one another.
Me: Whew …
Mom’s resistance only serves to fuel my interest in this medical condition. So when I receive a letter of protest from my “donor” parent, I’m all ears. (Maybe that should be “all eyes,” since it was a letter, not a phone call.) Her heartfelt, handwritten thoughts are expressed in bold below; my unspoken responses are shown in italics and parentheses.
I remember being very surprised when you came up with this diagnosis.
(I didn’t come up with this diagnosis, Mom. Doctors did. It’s what they do. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on T.V.)
A child with ADD is often not liked by peers, which is not true of you.
(I think it helped that I shared my lunches.)
You had excellent focus when you were younger. Your grades were outstanding. You completed your work in timely fashion, and you had great carryover of what you learned. You didn’t have the ADD problems of inability to succeed…
(That’s the misunderstanding so many have. More ADHD kids than you’d guess are bright and spontaneous. We’re good students, if you ignore all those little check marks in the school grade card behavior boxes.)
You did NOT have childhood ADD!
(Mom, are you then admitting I have adulthood ADHD? Got a surprise for you: ADHD doesn’t come and go like the seasons. It doesn’t develop. It doesn’t disappear. You have it, or you don’t! I do. Since birth.)
Employers would think twice about hiring someone who admits to having ADHD. Would you hire such a person?
(Yes, Mom, I would. I’d hire me in a heartbeat. Then I’d have a clever boss and a creative employee.)
Editor’s note: Feedback from last week’s column (Wait, I’m not the editor. I’m the writer. If I misrepresent myself in this lawsuit-happy society, I could … what, get sued? Hope they enjoy my estate’s $2.25 and pack of gum.)
Writer’s note: Feedback from last week’s (Dang, that doesn’t carry the same impact as an editor’s note. After all, I’ve got an image to create.)
Colin Powell’s note: Feedback from last (Mmmm … that’s got a nice feel. I could probably get away with borrowing his reputation; Mr. Powell is a very believable gentleman. Even so, I’d better amp up his importance just a notch.)
General Powell’s (yeah, that’s the ticket!) memorandum: Feedback from last week’s column, “ADHD vs. ‘Other’ People,” suggests most readers did not believe the story about Blackie’s brother Barry scuba diving with hammerheads. Except for Blackie writing that the sharks “spoke” about Barry having just two spears, the account is w-a-y true and totally without exaggeration.
You have my word on it.
And if General Powell had ever heard of me, he’d agree.