Mother of four but feels like much more. Sound familiar? Some days I thrive and some days I survive. Having an 11 year old with ADHD and as an educator for children who learn differently, I am well aware of ADHD behaviors. I do my best to be proactive to avoid emotional meltdowns and behaviors that would have most parents calling Nanny 911. My husband and I divide and conquer so that we rarely take all four kids on outings all at once. This enables us to focus our attention on our children and help shape behavior. On the rare occasion we do venture out as a family, we call for reinforcements. Going out to dinner? Bring the older cousins and Aunt along to entertain the little ones. Going to attempt shopping at the mall? Bring Mema along to help rally the troops. This brings me to my last visit to the mall.
I am at the mall having what I think is a good day with my hyperactive and, at times, emotionally unregulated 4 year old son. I successfully purchased dishes. Then I browsed the fine china section without a single broken dish or stroke of the glistening glassware. Kapow…success! My mom and I decide to venture on. We meander through the purse section. My son restrains the urge to swing all the purses on the rack and doesn’t knock a single one to the ground. He continues calmly through the store, with blankie in hand, following his momma like a little duckling. My mom and I glance at each other, shocked by the glowing behavior. We pause to take a glimpse at the jewelry display. That’s when “She” passes by and reduces my feeling of euphoric success to feeling like a child rearing failure. My son is standing a foot or two behind me and begins to twirl with his six-inch square blanket in his hand. During his pirouette his blanket grazes the subject, to whom I apologized. She glares at me with a sneer that’s worse than the one my mother would give me if I acted up at church. Then she says with malice, “Control your child!”. At a loss for words I say nothing and try to internalize what my son did that was deemed “Out of control”. The answer, nothing. We just so happened to cross paths with someone who has no idea what success I was feeling and that she should learn a little self-control over what spews from her mouth. What I thought to be great behavior was quickly ripped from me. If she was to spend one day or even one hour in my shoes, maybe she too would celebrate the small success of going out with a child who doesn’t run away, cry, touch everything on the rack, or shout in a store. Do not let others strip you of the small successes each day. For once I went shopping with one child and it felt like I had one child. I was able to think, browse and talk with my child as we wandered the department store. Raising a child is challenging. Raising a child with ADHD can feel overwhelming. Take each day as it comes, celebrate the little success, and know that you are not alone.