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 knew this day would come, sympathizes Screen Five. It was only a matter of when.
“Yes,” I agree. “Just didn’t think she would be asking the question so soon.”
She is young, sympathizes Two. Eight is just … just … and his voice trails off.
But you’re the dad, asserts Screen Six. This is your job. Far better you explain these things than some young buck down the street.
“You’re right, of course. All of you.”
Especially since she has just asked, reinforces Four.
“No better time than now, eh?”
Man up! shouts Six, looking out the window at my child. No time to waste – your daughter awaits!
I step into the warming Washington State sunshine but wrestle chills running through me.
Leah, hearing the door swing open, looks up. A smile splashes across her face. “Yay, Daddy! Thank you for teaching me!”
“No problem,” I say in a flat-out lie. “But you’re sure you need to learn this?”
“I don’t need to, Daddy. I want to!”
“OK,” I say, fighting off a heavy sigh at the thought of my blondie quickly growing up, “step back about 10 feet.”
She frowns mightily. “I don’t understand. Why am I doing that?”
Leah frowns again. “Dad,” says the girl who, in my eyes, is still a little kid, “I’m not a little kid.” She steps back 20 more paces. “I can handle some distance.”
Now I frown.
“I can’t handle the distance, Bug. My shoulders ache and I haven’t thrown yet.”
Screen Four laughs. This is before you have the surgeries to repair them both!
“Surgeries?” I ask.
Never mind. You’ll meet them in the years ahead. Go ahead, throw the ball.
Using my best underhand tosses, I am able to reach Leah. She works on her catching style, then whips the ball back at me. Overhand.
This system works for seven minutes. Then Leah is bored.
You have only yourself to blame for that, Dad, chastises Five. You passed along certain chromosomes –
GranJean’s genes! exclaims Three, laughing.
– and now your younger clone has ADHD, too.
“I brought out a couple of different-sized bats, Leah. Want to try hitting a couple of my pitches?”
Three sings, To dream … the impossible dream ….
“So what would you have me do, Blondie?”
“Throw the ball really high. You can do it underhand. Then I’ll learn how to catch the pop flies the batters hit.”
Your throws, advises One, will go straight up and come straight down. Improperly fielding a truly hard-hit ball leads to nose adjustments.
“It’s not the same, Bug.”
“Could we at least try it?”
I loft three different “bombs,” pretty proud of the heights my throws are reaching. Leah, in exaggerated boredom, barely uses the mitt to make the catch.
“Throw, Dad. Please. Like you mean it.”
Wants to play ball, does she? Six asks rhetorically. Fine by us. Have her put on the baseball cap, smack her mitt a time or two, and get ready to make The Big Catch.
“If it’s all the same to you, Six, I’d really rather not. My shoulders are so busted up that even these lackluster tosses hurt.”
You can do this, Black, Six slings back. We’re here for you. Right, guys?
My half-dozen screens shout, Fire away!
I look skyward, as if seeing the place to which I hope to launch the ball actually grants life to that desire. I crouch down, then spring up – hoping I correctly remember Mr. Hergert’s eighth-grade science lesson about my motion lending inertia to the softball – and release that baseball-on-steroids.
System failure! reports Five. My arm may separate from my shoulder. Amid the pain and the approaching blackness, I watch that softball fly higher than I’ve ever shot any feathered arrow.
At the same time you abandoned hope, says One, of ever using that arm again.
At last the ball loses its momentum, begins its long fall to Earth –
No doubt collecting cumulus clouds in its stitches! claims Four.
– and hesitantly I take my eyes off that beautiful sight to gaze upon another.
Normally this would mean your daughter’s face, sighs Two. But not right now.
“Horrified” well describes Leah’s expression. She, desperately looking into the sun, scans the skies seeking silent, swiftly sinking softballs.
“Dad,” she says in half-voice and half-sentences, “can’t find … lost it in the … do you see ….”
The sound of softball slamming eye socket is not new to me. Its sensation is new to Leah, however. Yet beneath that worthless “protective” visor, not a tear escapes my daughter, now reeling crazily.
All the water’s knocked out of her eye, muses Three.
She takes off the mitt, drops it to the ground. One hand gingerly covers the just-kissed eye – blues and blacks in various designer shades rapidly converge – and Leah turns to me.
“Don’t really want to play softball, Daddy.”
Quick learner, notes One. Sure she’s yours?
Postscript: Next-youngest brother Thor, superior athlete and fellow adventurer that he is, shares his own “diamond” tragedy …
Son Luke and I are playing catch at GranJean’s when youngest brother Barry calls to me. I turn to him at the same time Luke throws a hard ball at me. I remember staggering in Mom’s front yard, Barry laughing and Luke howling.
My son runs to me and, with a cat-ate-the-bird grin, says, “Dad, you OK?” I painfully nod that I am, and he says, “You owe me $100.”
[Teditor’s note: I once made a bet with Luke that if he EVER threw a ball so fast he hit me in the head, I would pay him 100 bucks.]
“I don’t owe you, Luke. It wasn’t fair because I wasn’t looking.”
He says, “Dad, you never said you had to be looking. Besides, when I threw it, you WERE looking. You always tell me you’re only as good as your word and your handshake.”
To date, I have paid the kid $79. Begrudgingly.
* * * * *
Take Me Out to the Ballgame [original version – classic!!!]
Angels in the Outfield [lots of familiar faces in there!]