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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

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My lifeA shadow falls across the weeds I pull during a volunteer outreach.

“Man, I really don’t want to go inside,” says a male voice. “How ’bout I stay out here and help you?”

Somebody will tug these weeds with you? asks Screen Four in disbelief. Don’t even look up, Black – just nod your head “yes” and keep going.

I nod, sneaking a peek at who is about to provide me company. But eyes fill with glorious, warming sun even squinting won’t allay, so I look back down at the earthy task I started 10 minutes earlier.

The young man offers a name – “Landon” – at the same time a hand enters my peripheral vision.

His name is not really Landon, corrects One.

“True,” I reply, “but for the personal safety and privacy of Landon, I have named him such to protect his identity. Now, back to my story.”

I extend muddy fingers to shake that hovering hand, mumble my name and simply ask the chap to dig up offending plants by the roots. Not by choice, I say little else during the next 60 minutes of rapid-fire speech produced by my new associate.

“Friends say I talk too much. I can talk all the time. I like talking to myself. I have a lot to say.”

Landon’s speedy hands are outdone only by his ceaseless words, comments Five.

“Good grief,” I murmur to my screens. “Is this what I’m like?”

“My dad has never worked. Ever. Not a day – not a day! – in his life. He stepped out of mine – my life, I mean – when I was two. Went straight to jail. Mom waited for him, though, and they got together right when dad got out.”

Landon laughs, shakes the huge dirt clump off his latest turf-clearing effort, continues. “Mom got pregnant right away. And right away, Dad went back to jail. So I’m 13 years older than my sister. We get along, though.”

Screen Three listens in amazement. You know more about this talkative youngster in a half-dozen minutes than most folks know about a lifetime spouse.

Raising BoysWhile Three is correct in that assessment, he still misses a clue that should have been screamingly obvious to a screen. But before I have a chance to share my thought, Landon spouts the news himself: “Both my parents are ADD.

No surprise here! boasts Six, as if he and the screens had known this all along.

“Having two parents with ADD doesn’t work well, Blackie. Went to a bunch of different schools because of all the foster homes. But Mom’s totally organized now and a really hard worker.”

“Mom” also passed along her ADD genes and work ethic, states One, seeing the huge asymmetric swath this lad swiftly creates in the flower bed we simultaneously tend.

“And now I’m 19, working under the table for my uncle at $15 an hour. Got a license but no car ’cause I smoke it away each week.” Mimicking the inhaling of a cigar, he says, “Might as well roll up a hundred-dollar bill and light it on fire. I’ve tried every drug known to man. Nowadays, it’s just marijuana, but it’s pretty much all day long.”

He abruptly stops, perhaps to take what appears to be his first breath in minutes, and I jump in. “Landon, ever hear of electro-chemical brain mapping?” He shakes his head. “When I had an accident – ”

“How bad?”

“ – declared me dead – back in ’87, that mapping process was used to assess the damage to my brain. My severe short-term memory loss – “

Maybe we should call it “shot-term,” eh? wonders Two.

” – occurs in exactly the same cerebral sector grievously affected by even casual marijuana use.”

Landon misses my point. “I died, too. Had a heart attack. Then two strokes.”

Landon misses every point, whistles Five. Apparently he does not comprehend the gravity of his drug use.

“Maybe you should try some of the current ADD prescriptions. They might help you set healthy new patterns.”

“No, Blackie. I’m not gonna do that. I don’t like to be medicated.”


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Postscript: Still feverishly working side by side with Landon, I bring him back to the issue of memory loss through marijuana use. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” I caution. “I would give almost anything to have it back. And mine was taken involuntarily. But yours? You, champ, intentionally throw away your healthy recall.”

He listens politely, strikes a contemplative pose for just a moment, then looks me in the eye. “Well, I don’t want to give up grass. All my friends do it, so it just seems right for me to do it, too. But I want my memories. They’re what’s most important in life, not the things I bought.”

Then he shares one last bit of homespun wisdom, comforting himself and, I suppose, believing he does the same for me.

“If, by the end of the day – each day – I’ve put a smile on someone’s face, I’ve done alright.”

* * * * *

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