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….