Suddenly, I Saw the Connection.
There was a moment during exam week when I thought, I absolutely cannot deal with Dylan anymore. He was being incredibly obnoxious, spinning and spouting gibberish and mimicking and throwing himself on the floor and making sounds that made absolutely no sense. He was acting like a spoiled toddler, but in Size Large.
He not only wouldn’t do what I asked; he also would purposefully refuse to budge even an inch – or even speak when spoken to. He tested every boundary ever set.
I thought, Maybe he’s sick. When Dylan is sick, his behavior is much worse than normal.
I don’t know what to do with him. My frustration was so great that I briefly considered hitting him, as if adding violence would solve anything. But I remained relatively calm.
At the end of a long week, and a particularly bad shopping trip during which Dylan was throwing a ball across the store while the preschoolers in the store were behaving well, we had a family meeting. Bill, Shane, Dylan and I discussed what it means to be respectful, and how to earn respect.
The meeting didn’t go well, but all parties were actively engaged.
Coincidentally, the family meeting took place the day after Dylan’s last day of school. He slept a lot over the weekend. He ate well. He did his own thing. There was no pressure. No deadlines, nothing due. No school.
ADHD and anxiety go hand-in-hand – a simple fact that I’d forgotten. In the midst of my frustration, I pulled out a book that a friend got for me: ADD and ADHD Teenagers. There was a whole slew of stuff in there about anxiety.
Suddenly, I saw the connection. I recognized that his anxiety was – in a way – making him act sick. He wasn’t capable of functioning normally. He needed to find a way to calm himself – say, studying and focusing on getting through each exam. But he didn’t do that. So he just spun out of control.
There are no final exams anymore in high school. But there will be plenty of other stressors during his lifetime.
I can only hope that he learns to deal with them as they arrive, and that he actually matures in the process.