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!]
Our roof-stripping, dynamic dancing duo in later years …
Shuffling feet and suddenly amplified music tell me what will happen next.
Get ready to boogie! shouts Screen Three.
“Babe!” shouts my excited bride. “Come dance!”
Miss Laura needn’t call a second time. I kick back from the computer, fly to her side. Two folks twist like tornadoes in a tiny kitchen, one body rolling arrhythmically but rocking, nonetheless.
Though I love the way she moves as we spin and whirl in tight spaces, I watch only my wife’s beautiful face. Laura’s eyes, amber-honey, are animated; her lips, parted gently, chase an air-catching breath of song and sound. She is music in motion.
What’s this remind you of, Blackie? asks Two.
I know I have seen something similar. But I cannot “pull it closer” for a clearer look.
Think smaller, younger, vulnerable, suggests One.
Feet keep moving while thoughts drift to a distant time and place. Suddenly I know the exact moment of which my screens speak.
We, being my young daughter of seven years and I, are in a grocery store. This particular aisle, tall and evenly packed, is spacious and clean, free of the displays that plague every other aisle. There is very little glass to be found along the shelves in this section, a fact which becomes important in just moments.
As often happens when that ADHD-gifted blondie and I get together, we aimlessly stroll the aisles, telling stories and laughing madly, each one the other’s best audience.
Smiles One, You have forgotten your prime directive.
Three asks, Could you put that in English?
Bumpkin, sighs One. Addressing me once more, he reminds, You are to select the best-priced, freshest-picked, healthiest-choice items available. Dinner depends upon your successful and timely hunting.
“We’re still in the store, aren’t we?”
Technically, yes, interjects Four. But One has a good point. Your ability – I say this of you and your daughter – to produce endless stories about unrelated elements may well keep you from accomplishing any of the tasks assigned you.
And how, asks Three, would this be different from anything else we do?
“Dad!” exclaims Leah, her eyes catching fire as joy ignites that whimsical spark extinguished in most adults. “Hear what’s on the radio?”
Six different screens and one father incline an ear toward the tinny speakers above.
Walkin’ on Sunshine! sings Three in deafening decibels that crash against cranium.
Leah hears my lyrics boom forth, but her intent is far more motion-minded than wanton warbling of off-tone notes. “No, Dad – dance!”
“Dance! We’ve got to dance!”
She takes my hands. Her little sneakers blur, landing everywhere but atop Pop’s toes. I gratefully recall the aisle’s product placement: no low-placed jam jars, no super-sized mayonnaise vats for her innocently spinning feet to clip and smash.
This unabashed sprite exudes energy and mirth. My unmoving stance only makes Leah tug my hands harder, prompts her to call out insistently, “Dance, Daddy – please!”
Black, coaches Three, you’re missing it. This gift needs your approval.
Screen Six steps up. Listen to me! Your daughter, the child you once heard you would never have, asks of you the easiest thing in the world.
“To dance, you mean?”
Easier than that, murmurs Five. She requests the pleasure of your heart joining hers.
I look down into pleading blue eyes. Clear, bright, innocent … so very full of courage and hope and wonder, so very absent of fear and disappointment and indifference. Radiating from my daughter’s face, those tiny peepers speak of trust in a protective father even as they mischievously seek the unexpected from that authority figure.
Dancing, whispers Three, would be most surprising. She doesn’t expect a man to do so. But you, an ADHD-amped adult …
Dance, then, we do, consuming between us not only the aisle’s width but most of its length as well. We dance unabashed and privately, as if we are unseen, though we care not whether ’tis true in this public palace. We dance hard and fast, together and apart, bodies flowing in curious paces across tiled-floor spaces.
We dance as father and child, dance in life steps which one day will guide a now-grown woman to release her father’s hand and grasp forever that of a new groom.
The song I’d first deemed too long crashes too soon to an end, escapade rivaled only by breathlessness. Leah, cheered and charged, trumpets her intent to race to Aisle Five and get the cereal.
Froot Loops™, shouts Six conspiratorially, but a blonde flash is gone. I turn to retrieve our minimally loaded cart and look straight into the face of an unknown woman.
“Oh!” I gasp, face first reddened by exercise, now by embarrassment. “I’m – we’re – so sorry! Didn’t, uh, didn’t know anybody else -”
“Wonderful,” she exhales, single tear tracing years. “Don’t apologize. Not for dancing. Not for that special moment.” She lightly brushes the tear, smiles bravely, almost mysteriously, then whispers …
“That’s what real dads do.”
Thus do I, Blackie, share the very special card that “I” send to Douglas Blackwell in June of 2004 …
I know the Bible says a foolish son is a grief to his father. Every time I read that passage, I think of all the heartache I’ve caused.
I’m sorry. I don’t want to disappoint you or cause you to struggle in your role as the father of so many youngsters.
In fact, Dad, I’ve looked at the exemplary lives my brothers and sister lead, and I’ve redoubled my determination to make you proud of me.
From this day forward – starting on this very Father’s Day – I will stop being such a knucklehead and will be a source of great joy …
Dad calls, laughing hard. “Best card you ever sent.”
* * * * *
Happy Father’s Day to all you dancing dads!
Trace Adkins is “Just Fishing” with his youngster
“Courageous” dads dance with their Cinderellas
Perry Como asks, “Where Are You Going, My Little One?”
Fathers, treasure those brief “Butterfly Kisses”