I was talking with my 12 year old son the other day about a girl he likes in school.
“She’s the most popular girl but some people say really mean things about her.”
“What do they say that’s mean?” I asked
“They call her fat and say she’s ugly without any makeup.”
God, kids can be mean. I asked him how he felt when he heard people saying things like that. “It makes me feel bad for her, because I know how I feel when people say mean things about me.”
My mom radar went off. My son is that kid who is always happy; nothing seems to get him down. He did not seem happy right now. What did he think people said?
“What do you think people say?” I asked expecting him to shrug, “I don’t know.” I got this instead:
I hear them, everything they probably think I can’t hear. Like the sigh when I tell them I forgot my homework again. I hear them mutter things under their breath when I am fidgeting in class. I hear frustration in their voices. I’d like them to understand I am not trying to make them mad.
I see things too. Like how you smile less with me than with other kids. I see how Daddy’s forehead gets all creased when he is yelling at me. I see people roll their eyes when I show them a new toy and how they sound all mad when they ask me to stop singing.
I want people to know I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know I am not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, “Are you dumb?” I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell. I hate when I ask someone a question and they say, “It’s none of your business. Stop interrupting.” I’m just curious.
I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are “normal.” How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I am nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, “If only he could focus like that in other areas.” I just want to feel like it’s ok to be me.
Holy sh*t! That was not what I expected and it took every ounce of strength I had to not crumble under the weight of my shame. Maybe my happy kid was a little less happy than I’d thought. And I’d been so frustrated with him for not being “normal,” I’d missed it.
I took a deep breath and hugged him. My heart hurt. “That was so beautifully said. I’ll make you a promise right now to work to make things different for you. I believe in you, I see your goodness and I don’t want you to hurt.” And I meant this with all of my being.
He hugged me back and looked shy now. Like a typical 12 year old boy.
So I am sticking to my promise. I want to help people understand ADHD and the struggles these wonderful humans go through just make a place to fit in this world. This is my start. They’re square pegs in a round-hole world. Let’s find ways to make more square holes for them to fit.