Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Series of Fortunate Events

It’s rare that one discrete event, such as reading a book, can have a singularly transformative effect on everything else in life. I know the book I read last Wednesday wasn’t magic and that it’s wisdom and insight, unto itself, can’t “fix” my parenting challenges. It occurred to me in the days following that it wasn’t so much the book itself, but the fact that I had “hit bottom,” as we say in the 12-step community, as it related to my children. Until January 10th, I had been assaulting the problem with my considerable will power, hell bent on “figuring it out,” as I have always done. Just as with my food addiction, my will fell short and I had to concede utter defeat. I simply could not do it on my own. It took slumping into a multi-day depression to get me to the point where I was ready to listen, ready to accept help. That was the first piece of the puzzle.

Enter the perfect book at precisely the right moment. Suuuuure. Coincidence. Yeah.

It gave me the next couple pieces. It said that the single most important part of a treatment plan for a child with ADHD is unconditional parental love. I realized I wasn’t doing this all that well. It said to look at ADHD as a gift to unwrap. When I first approached Eiledon with this idea, she didn’t buy it. She challenged me, “How is it a gift?” I had a few limp responses, but I really didn’t know myself. Still I muddled through and, if nothing else, I stayed positive.

By Saturday, I was noticing some distinct changes in Eiledon’s behavior.

  • She started self-checking her temper (she would yell “Hush!” at me but then immediately shake her head and say, “Sorry, sorry,” and bring it down a few notches rather than fly off the handle per usual).
  • She started putting effort out for others (I asked Gavin to hang up his coat and she quickly said, “Oh, I’ll do it for him, I’m down here. And he always hangs up my things.”)
  • She started laughing through her flute practice whenever she would mess up (instead of dissolving into rageful tears and self-abusive negative talk, she would launch into a clearly fake performance of the same painful behavior and then start giggling hysterically).
  • She started doing her homework on Saturday without being nagged. Without even being reminded. (Somebody pinch me).

Now, it happened that around the 11th or 12th of January, we upped her ADHD medication dose to what would be, most likely, the proper therapeutic level for her size/weight, and it’s likely that that’s another piece of the puzzle. And the more I noticed positive changes in her, the more my own outlook improved.

On Sunday morning, in this mellow, optimistic state, I led the littlest Sunday Schoolers through a re-enactment of the epiphany story during worship. The older kids held their star art-projects in the air and sang “Bright and Glorious Is the Sky” while the 3, 4 and 5-year old “Wise Men” followed a gold star-shaped mylar balloon to Mary, Joseph and Jesus. Way fun.

As I was carrying the last load of props back out of the nave after the service, I was stopped by one of the ushers. He’s not someone I know well, except by sight, but he stopped me by saying, “You know, I have been trying to figure you out.” He said he’d seen the various work I had been doing at Calvary and kept trying to guess from whatever I was doing what my professional career might be. He listed (in very complimentary terms) some of what he observed as my talents and then guessed at what career each might indicate, marveling at how none of them seemed compatible. Finally, he said with a smile, “I can’t figure it out. I give up.”

I stood listening to his monologue, my arms full of cardboard tube “telescopes” and scrolls, my eyes wide, a stupid grin across my face. He had just handed me the missing puzzle piece. He was, at that moment, the very incarnation of God, looking me right in the eye and saying, “Come on, now, Rebekah. Haven’t you figured this out yet?”

I have ADHD. And it’s the greatest gift I possess.

It’s also been a serious challenge. But I finally realized that my ADHD makes me who I am. And who I am is pretty damn cool. Which means I can now look my daughter in the eye and say, “Your ADHD is a gift. And we’re gonna have a blast unwrapping it.”

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing exactly how powerful Thy will, not mine, coupled with true love, compassion, and acceptance, really is.