Who’s Growing Up Faster?

Dylan is going to be a teenager soon.  Technically, it happens in 3 months, but it’s happening NOW.  And I keep denying it, or missing it, or something, because I keep thinking he’s still my little boy.

Yesterday, Dylan was listless, which is not his usual manner.  He’s usually bouncing off the walls, spinning, tackling Shane and doing headstands.  Since it was a weekend, I supposed that Dylan needed some mental stimulation.

Since he was a little kid, and after I discovered CelebrateCalm.com – a story unto itself – I’ve learned that ADHD is quite manageable, as long as you give your kid something mentally stimulating to do.  Maternal instinct says “Let them run!” but it’s actually counter-intuitive.  Running tires him out and exacerbates his symptoms.

So one day, when Dylan was driving me particularly crazy, I threw a giant bucket of blocks into the middle of the room and said, “Build a village!”  He and Shane raced over and started building – and within an hour, they had a giant metropolis with everything from a neighborhood pool to museums and a town hall.  And best of all, Dylan calmed down for the ENTIRE weekend!  It was amazing.

So when he was lying on the couch, I gave him another building project – but he wouldn’t step up.  Shane did the entire project and I screamed at Dylan to “Go to your room and just lay there if you’re so tired!”  He did – under protest – and when I went upstairs 20 minutes later, Dylan was just laying there, mad at the world but mostly at me.  I left him there for another 10 minutes when, sullenly, he came down and said nothing.

I was about to send him upstairs again when he suddenly broke.  He started crying.  He said he thought I hated him and that I didn’t understand him and that he felt discouraged and on and on and on….  Glumps of insecurity and confusion just rolled out of him with no apparent end.  It was a hormonal avalanche.

I recognized it right away: it was ME, at age 14.  I don’t know why I hadn’t seen it before.  I’d been trying to treat his ADHD when he was just being a typical underappreciated teenager.

So I sat him down and explained that he’s my first kid, and that I had totally blown it.  That what he’s feeling is perfectly normal and that I’m sorry and that I love him always, no matter what.  I assured him that I want him to be happy but that sometimes growing up is hard, and he isn’t always going to be happy.  And that I am the one who most needs to learn that.

I’m growing up right along with him, and learning things I maybe should have learned the first time around.  I can only hope I recognize “teenager” next time, and don’t punish him for being normal.  After all, he’s been so abnormal for so long, isn’t this just what I want for him – some semblance of normal?

Well, what I really want is for him to be happy.  And so it goes….


  1. Jackie Moore says:

    Hi, Kirsten,
    I’m enjoying reading your blog (even though I’m at work and should be eating half my lunch while getting prepared to teache Ed. Psych.). I’m writing because I felt your frustrations with Dylan as I read that entry. Jenny has had here frustrations with her own Dylan (who is now in 9th grade), especially the “didn’t hand it in, but I did it” -itis. I spent days over the last Christmas vacation working with him on language arts (almost read a whole book with him)and a couple of other subjects.

    He was willing to accept help from me without making faces or whining or crying or stomping, all of which he would probably have done with a parent. Sometimes, if there is someone outside of immediate family who can work with the student (a Mimi, perhaps?), that works better.

    Having said that and having spent 33 years in middle school, I think he presents as a very normal middle school boy. They do grow out of a lot of this. Once my daughter was complaining about similar things and said to me, “You just don’t understant!”

    I replied, “You’re right! I never had any kids of my own.”

    • Jackie, thank you THANK YOU for taking the time to comment. I love the idea of him working with someone else (ANYone!) although right now, he’s claiming he doesn’t need help (period. As if!) Your thoughts about it being typical middle school boy makes me feel SO much better. With him being my first child, I never know what’s normal and/or to be expected – and what’s just another difficult day with Dylan! Get back to work now – you should really be in the right mindset for Educational Psychology!! Thanks again.

  2. Oh Cherie, it’s so hard watching them fail. I feel your pain, too. The worst part is not knowing what’s teenager and what’s ADHD! I’ll keep plugging away, though, and hopefully Dylan will be able to pull himself through – regardless of his agony. I’m not planning to sue anyone just yet, but I am ever vigilant…! Thanks so much for your heartfelt comments.

  3. Cherie says:

    Just keep in the back of your mind – when things get you frazzled – “This too shall pass”. Being the parent of a gifted child with ADD – I feel your frustration and pain. Unfortunately – the onset of puberty and being a teenager just makes it all that much worse.
    Teenage boys in general do not brush their teeth, remember to put on deoderant or bathe – unless you make them. Their rooms will make you shudder. They start taking food, cans, cups, plates, silverware etc to their rooms and leave them there to mold and rot. The only one not aware of the stench of their rooms are them. And that has nothing to do with having ADD – that is a teenager. They also have all this rage and anger – at nothing and everything – and have no idea how to get rid of it. When you add their ADD to it – times it by oh I don’t know a billion (or so it seems).
    Middle School is an awful horrible experience for every kid. They are changing from children to young adults – they have bodies that are changing, ideas that are changing and this is where peer pressure and bullying are at their height. Your willingness to openly talk to your boys will help them adjust better than most in the long run – but – it won’t seem like that right now unfortunately. I was distressed to read that Dylan had been embarressed on 4 seperate occasions since the new year. I have a bit of advice for you – and this will carry Dylan all throughout Middle and High school – You contact the Maryland State Advisory Council for Gifted and Talented Education. You contact Dr. Jeanne Paynter 410-767-0331 and you tell her that Dylans educational and emotional needs are not being met. You tell her all about what has happened; and ask for her advice as to how to resolve this. You then call Dylan’s case manager and let them know that who you called and what they said and what they are going to do to change things. Dylan and Shane have rights that are protected by their being Special Needs children, and if Maryland is anything like the state of PA, you have the right to sue the school (at the State’s cost) for not meeting your child’s needs. I guarentee it works EVERY time – I have had to do this for Xan before – and the school district will bend over backwards. One last thing – I know as a Mom you are hard wired to do for and protect – but -I had to learn the hard way too – you have to let them fail if that is what they choose to do. It sucks, it’s hard and you’ll want to go to your room, close the door and cry – but it’s still their lives. You can’t and shouldn’t be there for them ALL the time anymore – you have to start to let them go a bit – and let them make their own mistakes. I had to let Xan flunk his senior year –
    Be strong and know that you are a fantastic Mom!



  4. Sherry says:

    I love you blog! So glad you finally got it started! I can’t wait to read more!!

    • Thanks! I’ve been reading yours, too – it inspired me to just start writing and do the rest later! Like, I have to figure out how to NOT approve comments – and just let them appear on my site! It’s all a process… 🙂

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