That Face!

7 Jan

I was reading my friend Anymommy’s blog today when I noticed a couple of ADHD posts highlighted on her sidebar.  I clicked on the first:  Issa’s Crazy World,  and found a beautiful post about her daughter.  It turns out some (insert bad word here) left a nasty comment on her blog, telling her she was poisoning her child for giving her meds to treat her ADHD.   In an attempt to shed light on the realities of life with children who have ADHD,  another blogger named Insta-Mom encouraged those of us who have children with ADHD to post a blog about the Face of ADHD. 

Here’s mine.

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This is the face of ADHD.

june-08-trip-to-houston-44

She is so many things, not the least of which is totally gorgeous, thanks to her birthparents who gave her their lovely skin, thick hair, and darling freckles.  She is funny.  REALLY funny.  She has comic timing for pete’s sake.  I LOVE her sense of humor.  She is ridiculously smart; in fact, this seems the perfect time to announce that our Sweet Pea will be one of 16 students competing in the school spelling bee.  Can I get a what-what?!  She is athletic, something I am not, so I appreciate it all the more.  She is fearless – absolutely unafraid of risk.  She will experience so many more things in this lifetime thanks to her willingness to try anything and everything.  She speaks her mind…alot.  When she thinks she’s right she is absolutely CONVINCED that she is right and she will not be swayed.  I’m hoping this will be an added advantage when someone offers her crack.  She can negotiate any situation; I’ve often said we should send her to the middle East to help with the conflict there, and considering the events of late it looks like maybe I should go ahead and buy her a ticket.  She is beyond creative.  I love how her mind works completely OUT of the box. 

But you may have never met this side of my daughter.  Perhaps you passed us at the grocery store while she was melting down over “needing” ice cream.  Or perhaps you watched her in gymnastics when she couldn’t keep her hands off the little girl next to her.  Or maybe you were in line with us at Disney World, when she couldn’t stop swinging on the bars, even though we told her to stop over and over again.  You’ve never gotten to see the beautiful side of her, you’ve only seen the ADHD.

I’ve written many times about the difficulties of having a child who is different.  We’re the ones who don’t get invited to birthday parties or sleepovers.   We’re the ones climbing on top of the monkey bars, just to see if we can.  We’re the ones having a tantrum on the sidewalk the minute we walk out of school because the stress of holding it together all day is just too much.  And I say “we” because it’s all of us who feel the stigma.  I see the looks.  I get the nasty vibe.  I hear the conversations when we’re walking out of a room.  My husband does too.  And I know Sweet Pea does, because she tells me.

It hurts. 

So if you have a child with ADHD, or any difference, you have my greatest encouragement to keep up whatever you’re doing for them.  All we can do is our best, whatever that is. 

And if you’re fortunate enough to have children without any differences, may I be so bold as to ask you to teach them about empathy and understanding?   Not just globally, but specifically.  Model it by loving on your kid’s friends who are different.  Give them compliments, or hugs.  Invite them over for a short playdate, even if it’s hard.  And when your child comes home saying “So and So got in trouble again today” see if your child can think of a way to be that child’s friend.  I promise they need one. 

And if you’re in the room when a parent is having difficulty, give that mom a little smile or a wink of encouragement.  And then don’t chime in when they leave and everyone starts tsking and speculating and patting themselves on the back for being such great parents because they don’t have kids like THAT.  Say a prayer for that mom, or send her good vibes, or whatever you do.  Maybe ask her to coffee later.  Because I promise, she needs a friend too.

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16 Responses to “That Face!”

  1. Darla Baerg January 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    Katy-

    You need to send that to every magazine you can think of, the Wall Street Journal, the NY Times, Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Ledger (is it a ledger? what is a ledger anyway…).

    Anyway…that is beautifully written and heartfelt and something every parent of any child needs to read.

    Maybe I should be your agent.

  2. jane January 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    As the old saying goes, “what goes around – comes around, and when it does it has picked up speed and may knock the _ _ _ _ out of you” is my favorite quiet saying to those parents who think their kids are well behaved! You rock mom!

  3. Tracey January 7, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Beautifully written! It made me think. Bravo.

  4. Allison January 7, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Very, VERY well said 🙂

  5. Insta-mom January 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm #

    Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Thank you so much for joining Issa and me in spreading the truth about children with ADHD. Because you’re right…it’s not just the parents who feel the judgment, it’s the kids, too.

    And those freckles…oh my gosh! Darling is right.

  6. Barb January 7, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your post! Since I have 2 kids with ADHD, I get a double dose of what you have described. Don’t get me started with the parents who judge us and suggest alternatives to meds. Preach on, Sister!!

  7. Paul January 7, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    We got thrown out of church (because of our child with ADHD). I wouldn’t change a thing about our son. Because greatness isn’t like everything else. It’s different, rare, and wonderful.

  8. Donna January 7, 2009 at 10:34 pm #

    First of all your daughter is beautiful! Inside and out as you so eloquently said. I will say as a teacher I love my ADHD kids the best, you never know what to expect from then and the love you get in return for loving them is the most precious!

  9. Patrick January 8, 2009 at 12:48 am #

    Well done. I agree that this needs to be in a publication especially the school/district newsletter (without the name and picture). She has really become a gorgeous young lady! As a middle school administrator who has sat in many an ARD and who has worked with hundreds of students under IDEA, I know that ADD and ADHD are real. Too many parents who don’t have children with disabilities don’t believe they are real. They feel that the parents should have done XYZ and there would not be the problem. I always ask those parents if they would go up to a kid in a wheelchair and say, “Get up and walk” or tell their parents, “If you had done XYZ, your kid would not be in a wheelchair.” I then ask them would they tell a kid with diabetes to “Quit acting up and make insulin” or tell a parent of a diabetic child, “If you had spanked her, she would be making insulin now.” I then ask them if their child was diagnosed with diabetes would they deny them insulin and just try to be a better parent? Would they see a kid with cancer and tell the parent that if they had done a better job, their kid would not be making malignant cells or that they should try to parent the cells out of them? Other parents need to understand that ADD and ADHD are just like being in a wheelchair and having diabetes or cancer. They are very real diseases and must be treated. It cannot be beat out of a kid or cured with better parenting. Keep doing what you are doing and know that with the blog today, you may change one ignorant mind. We can only do it one parent at a time. You must share this blog.

  10. Issa January 8, 2009 at 11:22 am #

    This is a beautiful post and thank you so much for sharing it. I think the thing that people don’t seem to realize is these kids will run the world one day. Mine wants to be a Supreme Court Judge…and a pro snowboarder. As adults, they find their outlet and the creativity just flows. If encouraged enough, they do great things. I know, because my brother has ADHD too. And he’s one of the best Chef’s ever. He loves the craziness of a kitchen. He’s an executive chef in one of the best steak houses in San Francisco.

    Kids with ADHD think differently, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I hope people keep talking about this, showing the face of ADHD. Maybe eventually it will help people understand, so the stigma will go away.

    Your daughter is beautiful by the way. Thanks for the link. Issa

  11. Jenny January 8, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    Katy – This is so well written! Thank you for such a beautiful post!

  12. Spring January 8, 2009 at 7:24 pm #

    This is awesome. As another mom of a very different child, I thank you for writing it.

  13. anymommy January 9, 2009 at 4:40 am #

    Beautiful, just like you and your amazing little girl. Excuse me, I need a tissue for the tears and snot running down my face.

  14. Barbara January 10, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Did I see that you are in San Antonio? That’s where I am…if you wanted to know.

  15. Danette January 11, 2009 at 3:04 am #

    I found you through Jenny’s blog, this is a beautiful post! I feel the same way about my sons (they have autism). Your daughter is beautiful, thanks for offering a glimpse of who she is.

    btw, this line, “And if you’re fortunate enough to have children without any differences, may I be so bold as to ask you to teach them about empathy and understanding?” – bravo. I agree with Darla (comment #1), everyone needs to read this.

  16. Molly January 14, 2009 at 10:20 pm #

    As a 20 year old with ADHD I’ve just got to say THANK YOU!

    The bottom line is that with support and self esteem we can do whatever we want. Kids with ADHD are pretty awesome. 😛

    Like Issa mentioned above, we think differently, but it’s not wrong. My ADHD is a huge asset outside the classroom. Look at how many absurdly successful people have ADHD. The guy from Jet Blue, the guy who started Kinkos, etc. They thought outside the box and they realized what people needed. Does it suck that I can’t remember where I put my car keys? Yes, but I can develop strategies for that. My whole hyperactive ability to be peppy at 7 am and chat up random strangers, not so easy to learn. I’ll take the energy over the organization anyday.

    Btw, I just found your blog and you are awesome.

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