My fourth grader ADHD+ daughter brought home one of those “awards” from PE class this year. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it because she, like me, is not athletic. I assumed it was a “nice try” award since I didn’t think she had what it takes to be a winner in gym class. She, like many ADHDers, isn’t that coordinated or patient enough to work at a sport.
The next day, her name was listed as one of a handful of fourth graders that met the school fitness challenge. (Am I a bad mom if I can’t remember what it was?) I paused. I re-read. I scratched my head. My girl? My teeny-tiny midget of a child who hates exercise and being hot and sweaty and all things competitive?
I asked her about it. She explained to me, in her customary matter of fact manner, that it didn’t have to do with speed, but with strength. “And, Mom, it’s like the t-shirt.” I’m trying to follow her lightning fast conversation leaps but I was lost. “You had to wear a t-shirt?” “NO, MOM, IT’S LIKE THE T-SHIRT.” (Puberty’s beginning to set in, so there was an edge of “you’re sooooo stupid” which I ignored as practice for the next eight years of living with sarcastic, venomous, blood-sucking pseudo-humans, but that’s another post).
I tried again. “What’s like the t-shirt? Help me out here.” She finally understands she has to verbally explain it for me to get it. “It’s like the t-shirt you keep buying me, the one that always says, ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce.’” She might not have long legs to run, or stamina to run for miles, but she is fierce and strong. And that day, she made the most of what she had and she came out a winner.
Derek Jeter said, “It’s not about what you have or don’t have. It’s about what you make of what you’ve got.” Parenting ADHDers is the same. To succeed, you have to figure out the child you’ve got and how to help them make the most of themselves, without worrying about what they do have or don’t have.