“I get knocked down but I get up again,” I’m mindlessly singing with the radio after drop off and a sudden surge of energy hits me. This sentiment seems all too true and I turn the radio up, belting out how strong I am in the face of challenges.
Ali and I spend lots of time helping each other get back up. When one of us is down, we text or call the other – not because she has the answer or can fix it. Honestly, the other one can’t really make us feel that much better. What we can do for each other is be present, listen, acknowledge, and lessen the loneliness of parenting complex ADHDers. When I call, Ali stops and enters the place I’m in. The place of dashed dreams, broken hearts, fruitless doctor visits, stupendously stupid school meetings, and sits down in the glass shards of parenting with me. And she LISTENS. And she KNOWS. And in feeling understood, I begin to imagine getting back up. She doesn’t rush me, she lets me lead the way to getting back up again because she trusts that when I get knocked down, I’m strong enough to get up again.
Now let’s be real, if complex ADHD knocks me on my fanny, what’s it doing to my kid? The same thing. He gets knocked down. It might be with friends or sports or school, but his ADHD creates numerous obstacles. Sometimes he’s an Olympic athlete, gracefully leaping over the hurdles and I watch in awe and clap silently (and honestly, sometimes out loud, while shouting with joy). Sometimes he tries and the whole hurdle collapses on him like some horrible stop-motion film. Sometimes he just looks at those hurdles and they seem sky-high, and he collapses with anxiety.
For a few years, I grabbed my pom-poms (ok, I don’t really have pom-poms but you know what I mean) and started in with the positive talk: “Come on, you can do this, it’s one hurdle, you’ve done lots of hurdles, I know you can do this, you are awesome!” And then I had a revelation–positivity isn’t an effective treatment for the Triple AAA of ADHD, Autism, and Anxiety. There’s a time for positivity and for role modeling resiliency, but when my kid is knocked down, I need to do what Ali does. Sit. Listen. Be still. Listen. Love. Trust. And when my brave, wise, complicated, resilient boy is ready, he will get up. Because he gets knocked down but he gets up again. And again. And again.