You never know what will come out of the mouths of children. One thing you can be sure of however, is that we grownups can learn a lot from their untainted views of life. Their refreshing observations serve to keep us grounded and bring back moments of youthful innocence.
Recently, one of those moments emerged during a family dinner conversation. After attending a family reunion, my husband Richard was sharing his experiences with our granddaughters, May and Eloise. As the conversation unfolded, Richard spoke of his female cousin who was a Brigadier General in the United States Army and, like their Aunt Jessica, had attained a PhD. Ten-year-old Eloise, who was listening attentively, asked what PhD. meant. Richard explained that PhD stood for doctor of philosophy and it takes years of hard work and studying to obtain the degree. Without missing a beat, Eloise responded, “Well, I’m an ADHD!” Eloise laughed along with the rest of us at her quick wit.
Later, when everyone left for home, I gave thought to how naturally Eloise spoke of her ADHD diagnosis. Her confidence is a tribute to her parents, sister, and teachers. Sitting still for lengths of time and staying focused are extremely difficult tasks for children with ADHD. It takes knowledgeable, patient, and understanding adults to help them develop the confidence necessary for academic and social growth.
To compare a person with a PhD.to a child with ADHD might seem ludicrous to some, but in many ways, just as a person in pursuit of a PhD. has a lot to contend with so does a child with ADHD. Eloise’s humorous retort had more depth to it than she or any of us at the time realized. It wasn’t until this past week when we took May and Eloise to see the play “Wicked” in New York City, that I gave a lot of thought to how difficult it is for a person with ADHD to navigate through any given day.
As the day of the play drew near, Eloise began to express concerns about her inability to sit still for an extended length of time. My husband tried to allay her worries by telling her that if she wanted to leave at intermission, he’d gladly leave with her.
During the first half of the play, I watched as Eloise fidgeted in her seat, played with her stress ball and stress worms, looked through her playbill, and scanned the audience. I thought for sure that she would take my husband up on his promise. Was I in for a surprise! Eloise loved the play and wanted to remain for the second half! The advance preparation that her parents and my husband did to address her needs helped soothe the boundless energy running through her little body.
Yes, Eloise has ADHD, but she is much more than the confines of any label. Thanks to her early diagnosis and the modifications made by her teachers and family, Eloise is thriving as a confident, witty, intelligent, dynamic gift to all of us who know and love her.