Road Trip Dysfunctional Family-Style Part 1

‘I’ve never been so fucking hot!’ Kurt shouts, as his toes touch hot sand for the first time in twelve months.

“I’ve never been so fucking cold!” he squeals like a girl, five minutes later, as his white body braces itself against the first wave in the ocean.

The old man and I must have patted ourselves at least twelve times on the back for our good fortune – part of our joint resolution to remain positive since NYE – since we commenced our family holiday with our son, Kevin the teenager.

Anyone would think that we had dragged Mr Entitled from the middle-class lower north shore of Sydney into some dangerous war zone or ghetto such has been his disgust at being dragged away from his highly-achieving and distinctly dodgy peers on a road trip up to Byron Bay with his parents.

THE SHAME OF HOLIDAYING WITH YOUR FAMILY! Stuff doesn’t get more ‘fuckin shit’ than being seen by someone you know when you’re on holiday with your parents, if you’re a seventeen year old with street cred to think about.

Yes, I did say we have come to Byron Bay. Not the obvious choice of holiday destination (as our therapist reminded us) for a dysfunctional family trying to steer clear their free-spirited and permanently troubled teenager from the wilder temptations of the city.

Byron Bay, for those of you not from Australia, is one of the dope havens of Australia – a paradise known for the happiness of its heyday and modern-day hippies, complete with tie-dye tee-shirts, dodgy cookies, floral headpieces and sweet-smelling free love with a contemporary vibe of healthy eating, blues music and beach culture.

Every time I dare utter the word ‘road trip’ encouragingly, my son snarls at me like some vengeful caged animal. I had foolishly thought a road trip would appeal to the boy, but I am also aware that my new definition of mother is to always be wrong these days.

I’m trying to keep a smile on my face as Kurt and the old man bicker about EVERYTHING, and at how (and in spite of a decent education) my son can use the F word as a verb, noun and adjective in every sentence.

He has also managed to tell us at least twenty-five times how much he hates us and this holiday and even called us ‘Nazi Parents’ the other day, at which the old man and I hugged each other gleefully with the knowledge that perhaps we’re not the bad parents that our therapists likes to paint us as.

This trip is obviously parental penance in its most evil form, yet there have been a couple of blink-and-you-miss-it ‘moments’ where Kurt forgets his alter-ego of Kevin The Teenager and actually enjoys himself, that have made the holiday almost worthwhile.

The discovery of Sapphire Beach, where there was not another soul in sight, warm water to calm the nerves and the sight of my usually sun-resistant son frolicking in and out of the waves was the first. And I can only recall two minor moans, relating to his inability to wear ‘stupid, f…cking thongs’ and his ‘sore fucking sunburn’.

Those naughty Byron men who run the Internet, however, must have been smoking too much of the funny stuff, unfortunately, because it is no way near as fast as the speed with which Kurt exits the ocean the minute a single grain of salt gets in his eyes, so I will sign off here before I throw this ‘fucking shite’ computer out of the window.

Helping Your ADHD Child Cram For Exams

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Kurt sat his first real exam today.

 

As in the FIRST exam he has considered important.

 

He has sat the Naplan tests in the past, but he said they didn’t count.

 

He has a point.

 

It was certainly the first English exam he’d ever studied for – if you define ‘study’ as drumming on the table while your mother coerces out of you the importance of language techniques using medieval torture techniques. Unfortunately, ‘language techniques’ don’t light Kurt’s fire in the way that drug-fuelled music does.

 

But he was very proud that he had read the FIRST HALF of ONE of his three English texts.

 

 

Luckily, I have Einstein’s quote ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life thinking it’s stupid,’ tattooed on my ass, to remind me, at times such as these. 

 

I sincerely hope there is a special place in heaven for tutors and online study aids.

 

When he sat his English Naplan test in Year 9, I was quite surprised when I received his grade for creative writing because normally this is the area he bullshits performs best in. When I asked him what he had written about, he told me he wrote ‘nothing’, because he didn’t agree with the tone of the question! 

Description unavailable
Description unavailable (Photo credit: Ernst|Photography)

 

So that is what we are up against.

And then, of course, there is his very literal interpretation of the questions sometimes, where in answer to extended response commands such as ‘how’ or ‘what’ or ‘explain’, he believes that a one-word answer will suffice.

 

I attempted to coach him some exam technique for these first half-yearly exams.

 

A difficult task when he is still so glaringly livid that ‘study leave’, which he had interpreted as an extended school holiday, is actually a time for revision.

 

Luckily, he managed to get on top of his Top Gear revision.

 

Difficult too, because I was already in the doghouse for trying to ‘support’ him in other ways when I requested ‘special provisions’ from his school. These are available for kids with learning disabilities, such as ADHD. It means they can get a five-minute break every now and again during the exam, or perhaps a little extra time or be put in a quiet room so that when another student starts chewing on their pen to aid their own concentration, Kurt won’t watch him for the next thirty minutes and lose his.

 

Kurt was horrified when I told him.

 

‘Why don’t you just tattoo ‘dickhead’ across my forehead and be done with it,’ he complained.

 

I decided it might be wise NOT to remind him about his special provisions this morning, just prior to the ‘WORST DAY OF HIS LIFE,’ because he was cross enough at the audacity of the Department of Education for making him sit still for TWO WHOLE HOURS!

 

But apparently, once the students were all sat down quietly in the hall and just about to start the exam, the deputy came in and shouted out ‘KURT COBAIN’ and demanded that he come out to the front of the hall.

 

Kurt shuffled his way up towards the front of the large hall, but unfortunately the woman didn’t see him behind his fringe at first and so she shouted his name out again in an even louder voice,

 

‘KURT COBAIN. SPECIAL PROVISIONS.’

 

I have been deleted from his life for the foreseeable future.

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Time Out Strategies for Mums of Children With ADHD

Time Out We are working with Kurt’s new school to help find strategies for him in the classroom, so that he and his teachers have some chance of survival until the end of the school year.

Common strategies might include a shared signal that the teacher will give to him when he is beginning to be too disruptive or loud.

The rude finger is apparently not currently in the Department of Education’s Guide to Good Teaching Handbook.

Another strategy is that the school has provided Kurt with is a fantastic ‘get out of jail free’ red card, which is a way of showing respect for his special needs (but which he has unfortunately renamed the ‘Loser Card’, and vowed never to implement). He can show this card to the teacher if he is beginning to feel frustrated or overwhelmed and needs some time out.

Time out options do not include having a fag, popping down to the shop for an iced bun or chatting up the Year 12 girls, much to his disgust. He is given ten minutes in either the library or with a nominated teacher in which to calm down.

Due to the well-meaning, rather avant-garde methodology of his new psychiatrist, who believes that ultimately we need Kurt to come off his medication and learn to manage his ADHD, (which we agree with, even though the psychiatrist doesn’t actually live with Kurt and his foibles), Kurt has now decided not to take his medication at the weekends.

This decision actually has nothing to do with Kurt wanting to manage his ADHD but is primarily for the aesthetic reason that the medication suppresses his appetite and he finds it hard to gain weight.

Poor Kurt!

Entering Year 11 and a new school, he is becoming increasingly more aware of his body image and his physical appeal to girls. Ironically, girls don’t like male stick insects that have no pause button on their vocal chords, even if they do play guitar, so he reckons if he can build some muscle tone, the girls will be so overcome by his physical beauty and charm, they will overlook his skinny frame and obsessions with quoting Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, being an Eminem clone (and I believe the only white or black rapper on the Lower North Shore) and drumming everything in sight.

This weekend was a particularly trying one for me due to the excitement/anxiety created by his impending school camp this week (what we like to call our 3 day holiday). So I jokingly asked Kurt last night if I could have my own red card for when I need time out.

What people who have no experience of ADHD fail to understand is that unlike the ADHD kids shown on ill-researched and sensationalist programmes generally transmitted by the ABC, the problems associated with ADHD do not only stem from hyperactivity and there are a several social situations where that red card could come in pretty fucking handy at times for close family members:

Like when Kurt has talked loudly and persistently for six hours, generally within 2” of your face at all times and without the understanding that taking turns to talk is a social grace.

Or when you try to watch a film like we did last night and have to pause it a minimum of eight times while he interrupts with ‘ something really important’ to tell you, like what he is wearing to school the following day, the Arctic Monkeys new song, how hot this girl in English is and if I think his pecs have grown over the past twenty-four hours. He will come and sit with us half way through the film and ask question after question about who is who, what has happened over the past hour and when will it finish while simultaneously fiddling with at least three different things on the coffee table, noisily.

Or when he starts drumming at 10pm at night.

Or when you go to the beach and he calls at least six times to ask when you are coming home.

So I asked him what signal or card would work for us, so that instead of shouting at him I could ask for time out. My suggestion of making the cross sign with my thumb and forefinger was received with shock (obviously too far!) as was my suggestion of a dummy remote control. So for the moment, we remain at the strategy that has worked for the past sixteen years whereby I eventually lose the plot’ and flip my lid because I begin to feel like a caged animal in my own home,  (because I’m human and not perfect), then run away and lock myself in my bedroom and Kurt knocks on my door until I come back out again.

My Boy’s All Grown Up

So the boy is finally growing up.

A Brand New James Bond by S Marcu
A Brand New James Bond by S Marcu at http://www.flickr.com

He didn’t scrub up too badly for his Formal, once I wiped the Nutella off his chin and exchanged the safety pin earring for a diamante stud.

He was almost Beckham-esque in stature.

It hurt physically to shop and buy his formal outfit together. A nagging ache of loss. How quickly they seem to grow up, spend all your money and then disappear from your life.

God, I sound old.

Having said that, the hurt was quickly diffused by the inevitable bitching in the shop over how much I was willing to spend, his begrudging acceptance that a white Target $10 shirt does look the same as the Top Man equivalent and my resulting hyperventilation when he told me how much his date’s corsage was going to cost ME.

But the Year 10 formal is evidently a coming-of-age event for Australian teenagers and who am I to argue?

I can admit to being still a little peeved that the Traxedo that we ordered from the States, at huge expense, was dismissed as being ‘silly’ when he secured himself a date and surmised (discerningly) that she might not approve.

That ‘disempowerment’ that the old man accuses me of, obviously starts young.

I watched my boy as he stood there in the Target changing room in his hybrid (part Target, part posh shop) tuxedo, trying to imitate James Bond.

And for the first time, all I could see was his dad.

It might have been the impulsive buzz cut that he tortured me with last week when he suddenly decided to shave off his dreadlocks, (so he now looks as bald as his dad a coot), or it might have been because he inherited those tiny eagle eyes that the old man insists are from Royal Polish ancestry. (Although NC still insists that I must have slept with an Asian somewhere down the track). Funny, those eyes may be small but they can pick up every item of money I spend that appears on the bank statement.

But watching our son reminded me of our Formal together, all those years ago.

Because the old man and I were ‘an item’ for Year 11 and 12 – before we parted for five years to greener grasses and some experimental loving.

(For some reason the old man insists I spent those five years in a nunnery).

But nearly thirty years later, there I was, dressing our son in his first tuxedo, just like I dressed the old man all those years again. (And I still haven’t learnt how to tie a bow tie).

There’s that circle of life thing again – it fucking haunts you all the way.

Of course I threatened him with every punishment ever invented if he misbehaved at the Formal. (Kurt that is). We had the talk AGAIN about alcohol, drugs, consent, sex and rock n’roll and he rolled his eyes and looked at me like I obviously had no idea about what it was like to be young. I didn’t mention that the old man and I got caught climbing back into the window of our school at 5am after our Formal night and were promptly suspended.

Thoughts of him as a baby boy came to mind. He was impulsive even then, and couldn’t wait to get out there immediately to start living his life properly so that my sixteen years of worry could officially commence.

He exploded out of my exhausted body only twenty minutes after we arrived at the hospital and he was that super big it felt like I was pushing a whole tray of melons out, rather than a solitary one.

TBH, he was as fat as a Buddha, which was unfortunate. We try not to mention it.

He wasn’t an attractive baby like NC had been, (once that excessive body hair had fallen out), and I would cry inside when people popped their heads in the pram to take a peep and then say nothing.

But the Buddha weight shifted quickly with the hyperactivity and the medication – (although unfortunately that combination has yet to work for me).

He is now slim and chiseled, although still a misunderstood boy, who already thinks he is a man of the world. He knows everything, of course – that goes with the territory of being a teenager. In fact he has always been known as ‘Google’ in our house for that very reason, although to me he has always been my ‘Bunny’, much to his mortification.

He hates it if I call him Bunny now, especially in front of his friends.

He is a perfectionist with OCD tendencies when he is anxious, and everything has to be just so; whereas I am more last-minute and laissez-faire, and I know it drives him insane.

When I smudged a great big black stain on the collar of his formal shirt the night before the event, I thought he was going to metamorphose into the Incredible Hulk. ‘Manically incredulous’ might be a good description of his reaction to another example of my ineptitude to be the ‘perfect mother’ he craves.

When I suggested making a corsage for his date, he was horrified.

We spar now, more than ever, because he is becoming a man and needs to break the invisible umbilical chord that has held us together this long.

I understand that.

It upsets me how much he has struggled through the first sixteen years of his life with the limitations caused by his ADHD, that have caused friendship issues, struggles with his emotions and poor self-esteem.

I just want other people to ‘get him’ like I do. Surely I can’t be the only one who sees that hurt in his eyes when he realizes his mistakes.

I used to be able to make things right for him by wrapping him up tightly in a mummy cuddle, but he doesn’t let me now. In fact sometimes he flinches if I get too close, because he doesn’t know how to vent those emotional frustrations.

But it’s a new dawn and in a way I’m glad he can take it out on me rather than the wall like he used to, or with drugs. And when he pushes me away, I know that’s just part of him trying to find his way, an independence of sorts; for him that’s a little harder than for most.

Eventually he will mature fully and learn to recognize his own strengths and greatness.

I recognized them sixteen years ago.

The Lethal Cocktail of ADHD And Depression

Deutsch: Cocktail
Deutsch: Cocktail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve had a bad week with Kurt.

You might remember that in my last post I caught myself foolishly romanticizing about how fantastic life was – it was like I’d discovered God or something and would be joining those rockster Christians in our local church on Sunday for a non-alcoholic drink and a session eulogising the joys of ‘giving’.

But anxiety says that dumb attitudes like that always precede a big mother fucking fall, and inevitably the euphoria was short-lived as reality banged rudely on our door once again.

ADHD can be a bitch like that. The only positive thing you can say about mental illness, is that it’s certainly never boring or predictable.

I sat in an ADHD support group last week, trying not to laugh hysterically as I listened to this fantastic speaker, Caroline Stevenson, reaffirm what life is truly like with ADHD kids. She talked of highs and lows, sinking and swimming – drowning a lot.

As she pointed out, ADHD is a very different animal to other mental disorders. Where other mental illnesses provoke pity, caring and support, ADHD is much more reactive and controversial. These kids can test your limits all the time – they can be angry and make you angry, oppositionally defiant, sly and (as she put it), fucking ‘annoying’ at times. (I might have added the F word).

Sometimes, they are very hard to love.

Mix depression into that blend, a pinch of anxiety and the general horrors of full-blown teenage-dom and you have the recipe for chaos.

After the fallout at the beginning of the year when we first arrived in Gotham City, (and the shit hit the proverbial fan), things had settled down recently to a suspiciously calmer pace. Kurt had tried and tested the delights of Glee School and its bounty of illicit goody bags and girls, and I assumed that the novelty of city life had worn off to a steadier grind.

The old man and I breathed again.

Kurt has been ‘happy’ of late, aided by a concoction from his psychiatrist, although he has put his outlet of music on the back burner while focusing for the first time on the social side of his life and new school.  He objects to his medication, saying that it thwarts his creativity – but at least those terrifying angry outbursts which often led to cutting, (which is terrifying as a parent), had dissipated for the time being.

He continued to hyper focus on the 27 Club, of course. He soaks up everything about his idol Kurt Cobain, and is as admiring of his behaviour offstage almost as much as his music, sadly.

But then something snapped.

It can be the tiniest trigger with ADHD – a falling out with a mate, me being less patient than I should be due to the balance of work and parenting or putting my own needs first, or simply from tiredness towards the end of term and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of relentless assignments, (that he has no hope of completing).

He buys sharpeners with my money and unscrews the blades to cut his arms. This is the same boy who screams in pain when I tweeze his mono-brow or put his earring back in.

And then I freak out and blow everything out of proportion because I am his mum and that’s what mums do and I can’t bear the thought of life without my ‘mad’ son. And that triggers the old man to become Mr Angry because he doesn’t have the emotional tools to deal with a child he can’t understand. Which in turn triggers NC to defend her Dad, and get all bitchy because her loony brother is taking over again and the family revolves around his needs like stars orbiting in the Kurt solar system.

He’s not actually ‘OK’, you see, if you measure ‘ok’ on the sanity chart with ‘conventional’ being ok.

And he probably never will be.

Suicide is my biggest fear. We all know that ADHD mixed with depression has the potential to lead to suicide.

I try to undo the damage caused by the missing Dopamine in his head at every opportunity, but sometimes the sheer frustration of not being able to get through to this human being that I created turns me into a mad woman too. When you are terrified that your child will hurt itself, the parenting rules go out of the window.

How can I punish him or shout at him? What if he does something stupid?

God, I would miss him. He is part of me, a huge part of me. It would be like someone opening my body and ripping out my insides. I am so like him. There is a bigger connection than normal, (almost perversely so), because genetically we have many of the same traits, only mine are not as extreme as his – perhaps my wires are not quite as tangled as his or I was able to develop the coping strategies to manage my shit better.

I want him to understand the preciousness of life and how much we love him, but I can’t get through to him. He smiles sympathetically when I try to tell him my fears, but I know that he doesn’t understand them.

On a good day, his ambition in life is about making his mark and leaving the world on a high. Which is what he thinks Kurt did.

On a bad day, he can’t even see a way out.

Mental illness sucks. I defy anyone to say that eventually a ‘pull yourself together’ attitude works. There is a chasm there, a black hole of chemical imbalance that defies logic.

If only my biggest fear for my teenage son was his HSC score or him drinking too much alcohol, rather than him taking his own life. If only I could be certain of that suicide cocktail not becoming lethal.

Teenage Dating and Sibling Baggage

SUITCASES ARE USED FOR SEATS AS MEMBERS OF THE...
SUITCASES ARE USED FOR SEATS AS MEMBERS OF THE YOUNGER GENERATION WAIT FOR A TRAIN IN NEW YORK CITY’S PENNSYLVANIA… – NARA – 556705 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Nerd Child casually slipped into the conversation that a male friend of hers would be staying over at Dysfunctionality house next week.

Just like that.

My Mumdar was alerted to something definitely very fishy behind that statement, but I initially ignored it – because I was busy. You know what it’s like when you’re multi-tasking? At the time, I was downing a bottle of wine in preparation for Kurt’s parents evening, and so couldn’t possibly be expected to think clearly.

Certainly not straight enough to grasp the obvious, underlying implications, anyway.

Kids can be selfish like that. They always choose the worst moments to dump something huge on you.

But then a sixth sense, (possibly the so-far elusive ‘parenting’ sense) sniffed out the teenage angst behind her words.

‘What did you say?’ I eventually asked, when it finally hit me that my daughter might actually be trying to ‘tell’ me something quite important, (and once again I was failing dismally in my role as confidante).

‘This friend’s coming to stay over,’ she repeated, looking in obvious pain.

‘But friends stay over all the time,’ I said, ‘so what’s the problem?’

‘Well…this one hasn’t met Kurt before,’ she stammered.

My fuddled brain finally began to make the connections Nerd Child’s already had. (To do this, I had to think of it how NC would be thinking, formulaically):

NC + potential boyfriend + good impression + KURT!!!!! = DISASTER!!!!

So before I could move into any potential mother-in-law mode, of planning extended family Sunday lunches, arranging their wedding, knitting booties and putting my grandchildren’s names down for Skeggs, it suddenly dawned on me why she might be a little anxious about this impending visit.

Her sibling baggage.

Kurt.

‘Okaaaaay,’ I started, my hackles beginning to rise in defense of our misunderstood (and quite obviously) mad-as-a-hatter son – her brother.

But then I saw it; the innate fear behind the usually cool, calm exterior. Nerd Child was actually terrified of Kurt showing her up – this guy must be a bit more important than the previous victims of her lair.

The siblings of kids with special needs are often forgotten about, even though they can be as affected as the parents by their sibling’s needs, and Nerd Child is no exception. Kurt is a tour de force in our house; his mood dictates the ambiance of the house; his noise is always in the foreground; he creates the eggshells that we all walk on.

For a more reserved, cerebral teenager like NC, her ADHD brother’s presence, the extreme way he lives his life and the way in which he manipulates the family, must be highly stressful. It’s not normal to see your 16 year old brother stomp naked through the house, to have to go out with him in just his pajamas, to miss events because he refuses to come at the last minute……

‘Tell me what I need to do,’ I asked her.

‘You mean, because sending him away to fight the war in Afghanistan or locking him in his room might not be considered humane?’ she joked.

‘Yes, because no matter how difficult life with your brother can be, he is part of your family and you must never be ashamed of your family,’ I replied.

The history of NC, Kurt and any of her potential suitors has been a little fraught. Kurt has three major loves in his life – having an audience, older male mentors and cigarettes – (this is quite typically ADHD behavior). So when a potential suitor bravely crosses the threshold of Dysfunctionality House, eager to please and bond with NC’s younger brother, Kurt latches onto him like a newborn to a nipple, often leaving NC out in the cold. If the guy plays a musical instrument, shows an interest in Top Gear or smokes, NC is doomed. Within 24 hours, her brother will be sharing the guy’s bed, discussing the merits of different bands with him, forcing earphones in his ears at full volume to MAKE him listen to them.

It’s going to take a certain type of guy to take on Kurt Nerd Child with her particular sibling baggage.

Her statement to me was about us needing to make some ground rules now for such occasions – to prioritize her needs for a change.

I immediately recognized that this would involve blackmail, negotiation and lots of money and/or Coco Pops.

She handed me her list of rules for Kurt:

  • No nudity
  • No jokes about her breasts
  • No sex jokes (in general)
  • No playing songs and forcing the poor guy to listen to them with threatening behaviour
  • No shouting, screaming, singing (especially the ‘Big Penis’ song) or jumping up and down for no tangible reason
  • No inviting him to smoke ANYTHING
  • No dressing of aforementioned victim suitor in Kurt’s spare Tigger or Eeyore onesie.

They sounded like reasonable requests to me.

But upon further consideration, we decided to arrange for Kurt to sleep over at the house of a fellow lunatic.

How To Cope With ADHD For Breakfast

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...
English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kurt is particularly vocal in the morning; some might call it manic.

Which makes it hard for the rest of us Dysfunctionals, because none of us are particularly great in the morning.

ADHD for breakfast is not how I would choose to start my day.

I’m a lot better than I used to be in the morning, as long as I’m left to quietly get on with what I have to do. If provoked, however, I have a tendency to react like a disturbed snake and attack aggressively.

My brain simply isn’t geared up to tolerance before 8am.

Nerd Child rarely awakes before midday so she generally escapes the madness fest that is our morning routine. She is a night bird and can happily stay up until two in the morning reading about the latest scientific discoveries on Time on-line or pinning pretty images of rocks and constellations on Pinterest.

The old man used to be good in the morning, before the weight of responsibility grabbed him by the balls. He still bounds out of bed like a toddler at the weekend, excited at the prospect of freedom, but from Monday to Friday he avoids the family like a bear with a sore head, dragging his neon cycling runners around the house, Lycra crunching harmoniously.

Unfortunately, once out of bed, Kurt is at his most deliriously manic in the morning.

Morning mania is apparently very common with ADHD.

He makes his presence known as soon as he is up with his bellows of the latest and crudest rap song in the shower. Within the first few bars of his booming baritone voice bouncing off the double brick walls, Nerd Child harmonizes with a continuous ‘shut up, Kurt’ and the old man starts slamming doors in protest, (before slinking out of the back door at the first opportunity).

This is ADHD for breakfast.

I used to get involved as soon as warfare was declared on the first floor. I would attempt to referee, try to calm Kurt the f*ck down, appease the others, but I now reserve those crucial energy supplies for the 30 minutes between Kurt bursting out of the shower and leaving the house for the station.

Until I pop those magic pills in his mouth, breakfasting with Kurt is tantamount to having a loud, over-grown and very resistant toddler in your face.

Typical ADHD factors that contribute to the high-intensity breakfasting experience are anxiety, poor organisation, tiredness and OCD.

They can trigger the following disputes :

School clothes – Kurt never wears anything twice due to his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so every item of clothing has to be washed religiously as soon as it is worn. At the moment he will only wear one pair of undies. Kurt has always hated wearing clothes which is a symptom of his hypersensitivity to sensory stimulus. If he had the choice, he would be a naturist and  in a permanent state of undress at home. In the morning, he walks around naked as he gathers together those clothes that pass his personal quality control. Having your teenage son’s penis in your face while eating your Muesli can be confronting.

Tick tock, tick tock….

Train and bus passes – where the f*ck do they go? These disappear daily or they don’t come home at all – organisation is poor with ADHD.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Medication – even though Kurt knows he benefits from his medication, it becomes a battle of wills between us at 7am.  ‘I’ve decided that I’m not going to take my medication today,’ is his typical provocation, which is generally the point at which my blood pressure begins to escalate and I first begin to think about wine.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Homework – breakfast is often the time that I discover that Kurt hasn’t done the assignment that was handed out three weeks ago and he fundamentally doesn’t give a sh*t anyway. I reserve time to get on the computer for making brown-nosing apologies to teachers and to beg for extensions.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Food  – Kurt’s ideal breakfast diet comprises of biscuits and cakes. A ‘success’ for me is an Up N’Go or a bowl of cereal; a ‘win’ might be some protein. Sometimes I just think f*ck it! (because I am human after all) and I let him eat what he wants. Choice is too overwhelming for kids with ADHD – what I should do is just buy 6 packets of the same cereal.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Organisation for School – Why I still bother with this at 7am in the morning, I have no idea? On more rational days I simply send an email to the school once he has gone.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Negotiations –  These usually pertain to the difference of opinion between us regarding when I would like him to be back from school and when he wants to come back. Negotiations usually end with a defiant ‘well, I’ll come back when I want to,’ no matter what I say. Generally, though, he will think about this later and come back when I have asked him to. For the moment.

However confronting this behaviour seems, it’s funny how the most bizarre behaviours can become the norm after a while.

As the clock ticks on, I am aware that every minute counts as my son becomes distracted by anything and everything in his path; from the dog offering her ball for playtime to advertisements on the television. Kurt needs to be on the train by 8.15am for him to have any chance of making it to school on time. If he manages to secretly put Top Gear on the television, I know that our time management for that morning is doomed and I will be receiving another ‘ late’ text from school with underlying ‘bad parent’ knuckle rap.

Which is usually when I begin to think about wine again.

The clock continues to tick, the old man tuts again and the dog hides as I continue to try and negotiate with my big fifteen year old boy, all the while trying to avoid making eye contact with his exposed member.

Everything I have read on the subject of ADHD with breakfast (and there is a lot of content out there) suggests that it is the parent who needs to accommodate the ADHD child in the morning, because they are overloaded. And as much as I want to make my child more independent, I also want him to succeed and not feel like a failure in this aspect of his life too.

Kids With ADHD Need Support and ‘Scaffolding’.

Therefore, I have now taken on board the suggestions from Diane at Impact ADHD on how to get Kurt out of the door without losing the plot help Kurt in the mornings:

  • Make sure he has taken his Melatonin the night before to help with sleep
  • Set two separate alarms to help him wake up
  • Give him ten minute reminders after the alarms
  • Agree to his breakfast the night before and set it out for him with his meds
  • Put a schedule on the fridge for him to refer to
  • Make sure either he or I have his uniform ready in his room the night before and his school bag packed
  • Help him organise his homework on time