Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]
Pity the poor lawman who has to track down an ADHD-laden criminal. That officer will die of frustration before he identifies a pattern to the crook’s activity.
Patterns aren’t a part of our life. They’re not in our genes. They suggest a rhythm to our days, a smoothness to our ways, and we won’t stand for it.
Because we’d be bored to death? asks Screen Two.
“Exactly,” I fire back. “The thought of something recurring in a cyclical –
Predictable, clarifies One.
Robotic, laments Five.
Routine, suggests Four.
– manner is enough to make us toss our Oreos.”
Double-stuffed? frets Three.
So much of what we do is without forethought. Rarely is “planning” involved, and when it is, it’s not on purpose. Schedules are for trains. Day-Timers® are for those without imagination.
Three majestically intones, Consistency kills. Variance thrills.
Spontaneous, we are! whoops Six, Yoda-like.
But the very characteristic in which we take such pride becomes our undoing.
Spontaneous … combustion? queries Five.
Spontaneity lets us react swiftly to a proposed event (usually involving a good time), yes. But it causes us to miss other “routines” that may have been more important.
Not in our eyes, decides One. In others’.
Case in point: Pop is cleaning out the garage. I help dear ol’ Dad by carrying neatly bound newspapers from the back of our house, up the driveway and into the front yard. I drop those bundles at the street curb to await collection by Boy Scouts recycling for money.
I’ve lugged half the load up when the first recycling truck arrives, carrying quite a few magazines and newspapers as well as several neighborhood friends close to my 11 years.
“Come with us!” they shout.
Woo hoo! exults Six. The unknown awaits!
I look back at the house. “Not done bringing up all the papers.”
“Filling up fast,” shouts Robbie, “so we’ll have to come back, anyway. You can get the rest of the stuff then. We’ll help.”
All six screens show me climbing aboard the truck and having the time of my life. Yet my feet won’t move.
“It’s OK,” assures Scott. “My dad’s driving.”
You’re fine, says Four. Your mom’s standing at the picture window. Wave and go. Simple.
Strange, murmurs Five. They are good friends.
Jumping onto our soft lawn, I watch Pop’s strong figure grow smaller as he gains downhill speed. An army of small humans, seeing the other half of the papers at the curb, piles out behind me. Bundles quickly loaded, we climb back on the truck, ready to resume the adventure I nearly missed by thinking like a boring Real Worlder.
“Dad wants you!” shouts next-youngest brother, Thor. “He’s been looking everywhere for you.”
Seems to be a warning, surmises One. Almost gloating, as if he thinks you’re about to taste parental thunder.
Six screens blare, In the truck, quick! Postpone the punishment! But even as I reach for extended hands, Scott’s dad tells me, “Have a curbside seat, son. Wait for your father.”
Only during this time of anxious waiting do the screens caution me that joining the paper drive may not be wise.
“Now you tell me? Now you say it might not be a good idea?”
Pop’s exhausted return home –
Ask him how he liked Thor’s bike, whispers Two.
– proves less punitive than I’d guessed. Deep concern for an ADHD son wandering a less-than-kind world, and relief at finding him intact, helps deflate some of his anger. Dinner denied, I am sent to bed early and told to keep lights off.
We’ll die of boredom, murmurs Four. Hide a flashlight.
What seems a lifetime later, Dad walks in, leans down, reaches beneath my pillow and retrieves the flashlight.
That looks tiny in your Pop’s paw, marvels Three. Each hand could spank a cheek by itself.
But I’m not spanked. I’m to answer my father’s question about what I have learned from this day, one which brought “unnecessary fear to parents. And don’t say you waved at mom, because she never saw you.”
ADDers don’t learn, we crash and burn. Tension mounts as 10 silent seconds pass in Real World time, equaling five agonizing minutes in mine. I scan all six rapid-fire screens for an answer, settle on Four’s and say it.
In the darkness, I cannot tell what Pop’s face is doing. But his laughter is welcome.
“Yes,” he says, most likely shaking his head, “yes, son, you’re better at delivering papers than collecting them.” He hugs me, tries to regain his authoritative tone, says, “We’ll talk tomorrow,” and closes the door.
I grab the spare flashlight between the mattresses. For a moment, I wonder what Pop means about talking tomorrow. Then, beam playing across the room, I signal outer space that I’m OK, ending one adventure and firing up the next.
Postscript – Following life patterns often bites me on the buns.
Putting you, says Three, at great risk for brain damage.
From the basement, my beautiful brown-eyed bride calls to me, “Please toss down all your dirty clothes.”
I throw down a sweatshirt and say, “Do your thing, o Magic Basement.” I hear a gasp of surprise, so I continue.
“Daily I offer you my worn items. Every Saturday you return them sparkling clean, hanging in my closet or neatly folded and placed in my dresser drawers. Thank you, Magic Basement, thank you.”
I wisely head off to a volunteer assignment. When I return, the house smells fabulous. “I’ve been cooking since you left,” says my cute culinary queen.
“Yes!” I shout, then enter the kitchen. The sink AND the stove are stacked high with pots, pans, cooking utensils and more. “Aughhh!” I wail. “Did you round up the neighbors’ dishes, too?”
Miss Laura pats my buns and whispers smugly in my ear, “Do your stuff, o Magic Kitchen!”
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