David and I take our usual places on either side of Dora. It’s the start of the nightly Falling Asleep Ultra Marathon Drama, except tonight, instead of reading Ivy and Bean or her favorite Children’s Bible, we are telling Dora that she has ADHD.
She thumbs through the age-appropriate ADHD book we’ve purchased to help us facilitate this discussion, but it’s clear she’s not reading. She’s busy processing, processing, processing.
We say things like:
“You are very, very smart. In fact, you are so smart and so curious to explore that your brain tells your body to move around and do cartwheels and play with pencils. Your brain also has all sorts of creative thoughts and ideas. Remember when you and your friend made out of a computer engine out of a chair and some foil?”
Dora laughs, “Oh, yeah. That was fun.”
“Well, your brain is special. It has a lot of energy and creative ideas like that.”
“It means no one can stop you when you’re focused on doing things like painting and drawing and making crafts — “
“– My dream is to wake up at Michaels and do nothing but crafts all day long!”, she interjects.
“– And it also means that you have to work harder –”
“– And gymnastics! Next door to the Michaels would be a gymnastics place and I could just do jumps all day long, too,” Dora squirms with excitement at the very thought of it.
“Please listen for just a minute.” Because here comes the kicker.
“Having ADHD also means that you have to work harder than other kids to do things you really don’t want to do.”
“Like math,” she states, glumly.
“Yup, like math. And homework.”
After painting the condition in warmer light than a Thomas Kincade Christmas painting, we punctuate the news with this closer: Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps has ADHD. Bam.
Dora’s eyes widen. “Michael Phelps? Really?”
“Really.” I say.
“Wow. Can I tell people I have ADHD like Michael Phelps?”
David and I glance at each other, each of us hoping the other will field this one.
I want to say “No!”, but instead I give a terrible non-answer about this being “her news to share” and there’s “nothing wrong with it” and “tons of people have ADHD” but she should be “selective about sharing” it because sometimes “people might judge” but there’s “nothing to be concerned about” it’s really “their problem” and I can tell she is no longer listening to me. Hell, I’m no longer listening to me.
“Serena Williams also has ADHD,” David offers.
“Yup,” I add, “And Beyonce’s sister has it, too,” I say. David glances at me above Dora’s head, one eyebrow cocked.
While true, this particular reveal was not in our script. I can read the thought bubble hovering over his head: “Didn’t you just tell me that Beyonce’s sister was shoved out of an elevator by Beyonce’s husband?”
My thought bubble replies, “Yes, I’m sorry, I forgot about that and also please shut up, this is hard enough.” Such are the special super powers borne of thirteen years of marriage.
“So,” Dora says, still paging absentmindedly through the ADHD book, “So … if ADHD isn’t a bad thing, then why is it called ‘disorder’?’”
I know exactly how I will die; “She died of Parenting,” the detective will announce, resting my wrists gently over my heart. And all the Parents standing around will nod and say “Ah.” and no one will ask any questions because everyone knows Parenting is the Silent Killer.
I go with the truth. “I don’t know why it’s called a ‘disorder’ honey.”
“I’m serious, Mom. Why?”
“Because people are dull, judgmental and unimaginative?”
“–Mommy, I’m serious!”
“So is Mommy.” David says.