I started to type a facebook status, but it was getting long, so BLOG POST, shit, those broken category links, should I fix them– NO. But I should make a picture; I’m sure I’ve taken a picture with a group of people– wait, open source clip art!Two hours later.
After all of this time, I should have skipped the To Do list that was preventing me from writing about how pissed off I am at Sports Illustrated, which I now get to look at all the time thanks to Joel cashing in airline miles for a subscription. So frustrating to read the editor’s little moment of “beauty in every shape”– why am I suddenly I’m getting facebook notifications right there at the bottom of my screen? Replies to my comments– I should check those– NO. That lizard keeps scratching her glass, but when I get her out she just scratches to go back in, but now the dog has to go out, and I’ve snoozed my phone’s lunch alarm so many times that it started overlapping into the afternoon brain break alarm–also snoozed. I need to shower, and did I get a present for that party tomorrow, and dammit why are there only three black women in the Swimsuit Edition, and why is the SI editor so proud of having a full-sized model on the cover, only to airbrush the shit out of the cellulite on that same model’s thighs, and why do the sports announcers call the white basketball players great leaders on the court, only to crow about how much they love the aggression of the black players, and why did SI put the darkest of their 3 black women on the African cost surrounded by black men in tribal robes, and WHY IS SHE THE ONLY ONE POSING WITH A GIANT SNAKE?
Something happens when you become a parent. Things that once personified disgusting aren’t a big deal anymore. I mean, I don’t love poop and I would much rather avoid being confronted with someone else’s feces, but I’ve cloth diapered two kids. Poop has lost some of its power.
Same thing with snot. Once, while talking to my neighbor, a young, newlywed (at the time), guitar-player-in-a-band-guy, I reached over and used my hand to wipe the twin streams of snot off Zach’s face. That memory, one I’ve written about before, still makes me giggle every time I see him.
Then today happened. I did a little trash can diving. You see, I was trying to empty the Dyson canister, which wouldn’t normally be a huge deal. Except the sock that I had lazily vacuumed rather than picked up? Sock was stuck in the vacuum canister.
General Sock fronted a strong legion of The Dog Hair Brigade. How would I counter-attack? With a stick? With my… hand.
After all, it seems obvious that Sock lost his partner to the Canister Wars, perhaps he’s heard that I use hand-in-canister as a very last resort.
So I (gently) banged the side of the canister against the side of the trash can and waited for my victory.
Then bottom of the stupid canister fell off (I think Sock dislodged it on his way out)…settling itself against the side of the empty-except-for-an-odd-liquid-substance trash can.
I’m not tall enough to reach the bottom, even with long barbecue tongs, and instead of walking the 5 feet to get a sturdy chair, I chose instead to balance on a large, up-turned flowerpot.
No, I did not fall in, but that was the result of luck, not sensibility.
What makes any of this story notable is that it all went down sort of in front of that same neighbor. I cannot decide if these situations are coincidence, or if I’m subconsciously trying to warn the young people away from the life where one animates socks and dog hair, imagines a vendetta, and then acts it out in the driveway.
I wrote a piece about parenting with ADHD for Momsrising in support of National Women’s Healthcare Week. You should go read it, not just because I wrote it, but also because the impact of momsrising on law-creation (and the potential for even MORE impact) is astounding.
You can inform yourself about their goals here. You can sign up for free email alerts “on timely issues like health care, flexible work options, paid family leave, child care, living wages.” You can take action here.
Step 1. Notice you have a problem. Step 2: Figure out what to do about that problem.
Setting that solution into motion? Biggest, most important step.
My problem lives over there on the internet. ACK– KNOW ALL THINGS. I love knowing things. I am nosy beyond what feels comfortable to admit.
Okay, I’ll tell you one. Last month I managed to circle my way around the facebook drain to the memorial page for a mid-twenties Australian (or Welsh, maybe— because those country’s are in no way related) climber’s page. He’d died in a climbing accident (saw that coming), and his family and friends do this huge trek once a year.
Now, I had 1) opened a web browser to to check the weather, and 2) SIXTY MINUTES LATER…
My brain goes KAPOWY, my eyes glaze over as each click drags me deeper into the seemingly unconnected connections in the relational database from hell.
I am The Ultimate Gretel, but I ate the cookies, so no crumbs.
That said, let me brag for a minute (hubris to balance out self deprecation) if you [waves mouse-clicking hand] have secrets AND live on the internet? The single-minded dogged persistence of the obsessed when combined with intelligence and unlimited screen time of an adult that scoffs at sleep?
Pffft. You have not a single snowballs chance. Yeah, trifling bitch– Ima looking RIGHT at ya. Winky.
Alright, back to it.
Internet and cookies– not internet cookies (except that’s kinda what those are, right? Little bread crumbs?)– symbolically speaking, are both about the ability to self regulate. And THAT is why these two items rarely enter my house. Seriously, I will eat the two things at the same time. Mixed together, even.
What does all of this have to do with any of you, my fabulously addicted internet friends?
Chrome, which I have just recently switched to because why shouldn’t google own every bit of my data, includes an extension called StayFocusd.
Aww, yeah. Any program delivering smart-ass to this level gets love from me (picture gets bigger if you click it, duh). My daily facebook time limit– across all my devices?
40 minutes. I might add amazon next– the amount of time I can waste searching for that perfect *free* book is time I could spend, you know, writing my own book. 😀
To reiterate, ADHD involves focal struggles, but the colloquial paradigm of focusing (snort) on focus problems unfairly turned those into The Biggest Deal. Of course fidgeting and/or the glassy-eyed ceiling stare easily captures someone else’s attention (snort 2). But those cliched examples overshadow the primary long-term challenge for an ADHD brain, executive function: defined as neurocognitive processes that maintain an appropriate problem-solving set to attain a later goal.
Let’s focus (puns, like them I do) on my personal Top 4 of ADHD Life Challenges: stabilizing focus; the details are gonna get ya; getting lost in the hyperfocus; and executive function (e.g., Do you have a Plan?).
Examples are good, right? As an aside, why do all uterus-clenching bad dreams climax at 3am?
Consider the subconscious-driven, Poe-worthy, eyelid-screen-playing terrors that yank you from sleep, leaving behind a pounding heart, clenched fists, and the childish need to GET YOUR FEET UNDER THE SHEET. Eventually you go back to sleep, certain to remember each detail; after all the writer recognizes that horror as an urban fantasy goldmine.
Morning arrives, coffee is poured
on your hand in your cup, and you sit to begin documentation on the masterpiece that will seal your yoga-pants wearing future. You find… nothing… but a vague imprint of terror. The details, completely gone.
Now what? Do you drink your coffee and try harder to recall the dream details? Do you free write? Did you even grab a pencil? Most people sitting down to write would have grabbed pencil and paper, yes?
By the time you’ve found something other than crayon to use on a surface other than construction paper, you wasted the remainder of the morning.
What if life found you lost, unprepared, and feeling moronic? Every day, at least once, sometimes more? Please note, it’s not the high-level stuff that makes me feel stupid; it’s the being overwhelmed by permission slips, purchasing postage stamps, and commas.
Yet cooking with Small People stresses me out to the point of sweating and hand-flapping.
So yeah, getting lost in the hyperfocus looks damning from an outsider’s point of view. Starting a new novel at 11pm and continuing to read for 4 hours represents both a choice, and an executive planning fail.
In reality, a vital part of my internal defense system ties into the laser-like tunnel-vision of hyperfocus. And my semi-neurotic list creation. The alarm I program in warning for an upcoming reminder.
Since I can’t wear headphones all day, I use hyperfocus to block the trivial annoyances (itchy bra tag, sand in my socks, humming light bulb, someone chewing gum) that stealth bomb my focus with their Distraction Drones.
Tragically, most coping mechanisms include a flip side. For example, three rooms away my oldest child reads to his brother. My husband types. Outside of my window, sleet pings against the metal gutter. But one sound– the sniff, sniff, SNIFF of someone’s running nose rattles through all the rest until I’m screaming, “BLOW YOUR NOSE”.
Starting and Stopping
I feel Newton and his first Law of Motion nailed the issue of executive function and hyperfocus.
Requiring yourself to level up to hyperfocus to finish tasks with more than 4 stops? The inability to halt an obviously destructive path?
Meet my arch-nemesis, Inertia. Getting started sucks, but wait– stopping sucks more.
I don’t love that part of my ADHD. Nor do any of the non-ADHD people interacting with me on a regular basis. For the longest time (oh, like 9 years) it never occurred to me that my hyperfocus-induced tendency to procrastinate affected my husband. He’s certainly not going to sew 25 seat cushions for the kindergarten. Alright, fair point– never would he accidentally volunteer to sew 25 seat cushions.
But guess who’s on the hook for everything else while I sob over my seam ripper? Whoopsy.
My favorite thing about having typically-brained (well, not ADHD-brained) spouse? Patience. He’ll sit for an hour to activate my new cell phone, because the idea of waiting that long on the phone? Shudder.
Muter. He’s learned how to navigate away from the default setting of being my Personal Brain Dump Receptor. My increased empathy definitely sprouted from being on the karmatic other side with my 6 year old, but still.
All of my successful long-term relationships include a person comfortable enough with asking that I shut up for a minute.
I make JB “talk more than anyone else. ever.” In return he stops my Verbal Vomit Faucet.
Balance. Important, that.
This post was written in participation of Blogher’s NaBloPoMo February 2013.
I’m expanding my goal (in other words, actually making an effort) to write every day. I have a novel in me, y’all– but not here. Not even gasp about parenting.
The best part of a coincidence is when it’s two lovely things coinciding, like my goal and Blogher’s February 2013 NaBloPoMo, which you can find here.
Here I am blogging on Day 1 despite some server issues with my hosting company making this feel like vintage dial-up. I had a different topic, but the vintage dial-up thing keeps reminding me of:
You see? Too slow. ADHD can’t take it any longer. Must.Run.Away.
At the end of August I broke up with ADHD. I looked right at it and announced that I wanted to see other people, that we had lost the spark and were just going through the motions together.
Then I spent the next 5 months downloading mostly awful kindle books and eating chocolate on the couch. I dug out my stretchy pants and totally ignored all of my own advice about exercise.
I ignored all of ADHD’s calls– and it called me A LOT. I drowned my creative urges with a laser-like hyperfocus that would have been admirable had it resulted in anything tangible.
So ADHD and I weren’t friends, but that’s not my personal normal.
Usually I’m agreeably tolerant of my scattered brain; it’s been my modus operandi for a lifetime. Regular avoidance of taking myself too seriously goes a long way. Documenting how a bad 80s song turned into a metaphor for my time-wasting problem– also fun.
Consciously looking for the good in the insanity, even when that insanity involves your 19 year old self leaving a bad day at work (Food Lion) to join the Air Force.
Only to end up in the Navy for two weeks.
By the way– typically brained people–that level of effort is exhausting.
Spending the vast majority of the day knowing that life spins out of your control and that the people around you perceive your distractions as personal failures can make cheerfulness hard to maintain.
C’mon people– you didn’t expect really expect mood consistency Anyone with a chronic mental or physical condition gets fed up with having to deal sometimes. We wallow, then we dust off. Except for the ones that don’t.
Coping skills? I could write a book. Procrastination is even a coping mechanism, if you consider how waiting until the very last minute pushes my brain into hyper-focus. And hyper-focus is when shit gets done.
My imagination? My ability to see pathways and layers that y’all “normal” folk miss on your way to being, like, ON TIME for things? Looking sideways and squinty-eyed at a project idea and coming up with a plan?
Love that part.
Controlling impulsive decisions, like tattoos of cartoon devils remains the single greatest medication achievement. But medication hasn’t touched the executive function problems. Struggling both with starting–and finishing– most everything?
Harder to love.
I can appreciate what hyper-focus looks like to the outside world. Especially for those people that assume that ADHD is rooted mostly in focus, or lack thereof.
“Look! She’s been reading for 5 straight hours! That takes FOCUS.” She just doesn’t want to do her homework.”
Bah. ADHD isn’t just about having, or not having, the ability to focus. The focus thing is secondary. The primary issue is one of executive function: defined as neurocognitive processes that maintain an appropriate problem-solving set to attain a later goal.
But hyper-focus is a topic all of its own.
Okay, so I’ve been notably absent, but y’all should read the 10 draft posts hanging out in the cloud just waiting for some organized person to come finish them. In one of the drafts I compare children to glade plug ins– that’s some funny stuff right there.
However, a recent parking lot experience forces me to set that to the side, next to the draft post about how my ADHD has been kicking my ass in a rather spectacular manner since, oh– August to talk about minivan rage.
I am a loud hater of malls, yet found myself forced into a trip as part of my yearly quest for non-bedazzled boots for the non-cankle suffering woman. My body is a veritable shrine to largess, but my ankles are rocking.
Late Saturday afternoon I’m doing the slow cruise into the parking lot, chatting with my mama.
If this was a week in the future, I would have expected insanity and rage that cohabitates with Merry ThanksgivingGluttonyChristmasConsumerism Day.
Prepared for it even.
Nothing prepared me for the Minivan driving, V-neck Sweater Guy. Nor had I bolstered up my douchebag shields before being subjected to his frenetic arm flapping and red bulging face.
Definitely nothing prepared me for those things just because I didn’t slam on breaks to let him cut me off.
After all, I very clearly had the right of way.
Okay, I maybe could have refrained from flipping him off. But it’s so personally aggravating to have to watch a grown-ass man have a temper tantrum over some shit that is his fault. And really, my quota for dealing with that crap overfloweth from spending so much time with children.
Okay, so I could have refrained from flipping him off. Maybe it was the minivan and the accompanying sense of entitlement? Perhaps I felt his rudeness to be a slight to my gender? Definitely it was that I just felt like a fuck you was the most appropriate response.
Something happened in this man’s life (day) long before me and my pesky following of driving rules. I’m going to wager that spending Saturday at the mall with his wife didn’t make this man’s top 10 list of fun things. But following up his frenetic arm motion with pulling into the on-coming lane of traffic…
I assume he was trying to teach me a lesson?
He kept going, narrowly missing a car that *gasp* had the nerve to be driving in its lane, trying to play chicken. Look, my car is nice and all, but it isn’t a 50k Honda Minivan. Want to hit my car and then explain to the cops exactly why you were in the wrong lane? Because I’ll be screaming OW, my neck from the stretcher.
Oh, I don’t think my victory in the Chicken Game made him happy AT ALL. Nor, I suppose, did my slowing down to 5 miles per hour. But really.
He proceeded to vroom past my car and park, completely blocking my exit. I stared at him, perplexed, then finally muttered, “I gotta go, Mom”, took off my seatbelt and opened my door.
Despite all of his penis posturing and grunting, I’m not about to be intimidated by a minivan driving, v-neck sweater-wearing guy rolling deep with his wifey in the mall parking lot.
He must have remembered a very important appointment that very instant, because before my feet could hit the asphalt he was pulling away.
Yup, that’s some balls, hunh?
A friend recently posted the resignation letter of Kris L. Nielsen, a teacher in Monroe, NC. Go read it– I’ll wait.
That sort of sums it all up, doesn’t it? I love teachers. The burned out teachers? Well, I love them too, because thinking of doing that job with a class full of wound up energy balls makes my uterus hurt.
My familiarity with classroom volunteering– their preschool was (is) participatory– fooled me into feeling prepared. I forgot about class size and shorter days. The transition to public school has been… complicated. For me, for Zach, for Elliot.
I volunteered in Z’s class earlier this year. There’s something extra special about adults that can deal with a gaggle of 5 and 6 year old children without flipping out. Hell, I can barely deal with my almost 6 year old without losing patience and I like pushed him out of my body.
I read Ms. Nielsen’s letter yesterday morning, a day that was both teacher workday and Halloween, on too little sleep and too much PMS.
A morning spent sort of weepy and full of angst for the future of ALL children made me more present with my own children, and for that I thank her.
The state of public education still saddens me. So many worksheets. So many… moments of institutionalized learning. So much sitting.
Back and forth I’ve gone with JB about the risks and benefits of homeschool. He points out (fearfully, I think) that homeschooling lacks the same cultural diversity that sent me away from private school. He likes to roll out Other Self’s opinion of public schools– that it serves society a purpose greater than simple letter-learning. When I walked inside from volunteer day– wide-eyed, exhausted, and in desperate need of an alcoholic beverage– he reminded me that all of those diverse personalities translate into eventual adults.
John Hughes needed to write The Naptime Club. That would have helped.
But knowing the importance of these exposures– really, tolerance and empathy isn’t learned in a homogenized vacuum— doesn’t make it any easier to watch my child hold himself under such control all day. It does make it slightly easier for me to maintain my calm with an
insanely hyper energetic kid runs to the car.
Sort of. Sometimes. On Wednesdays.
It doesn’t make it easier to explain to my child why I pushed him away from both the TV and video games saying “it’s not healthy to sit all day” only to send him to a place where he spends most of the day… sitting.
I have an intimate understanding of the challenge of sitting still (thanks ADHD), so now I let him stand up to eat dinner. I’ve also worked with him on some ways to internally fidget. Can you say core exercises? He’s gonna rock some six-pack abs in first grade.
When he looks at me, and says, “I could do all my school work at home in an hour” (and he’s not lying either) I pull on my poker face and remind him of what he’d miss out on. All while doubting that he’d miss out on that much.
In my eeyore-ness, I’ll log onto pinterest and see how available all the information is; how doable and satisfying homeschool could be.
Then I’m home with the two of them for an hour and suddenly public school doesn’t seem so bad. Separately, I rock this parenting thing like I did it on purpose. I’m much less effective teaching both of them. Their temperaments, abilities and interests are so very different.
What I can’t do well with two, we expect of teachers with 25. Moronic, yeah?
Anyway, this rambling has something to do with why I wish the American education system was different. Why I’m confident I could homeschool at 1pm on a Tuesday, and equally as certain that my Tuesday-self was batshit crazy by 5pm Sunday afternoon.
The hippie in me wants to pull my whole family into a wigwam and live peacefully off the bounty of the land. But I’d have to find a new husband. And rig up solar power for my computer/iPAD/smartphone.