Where the Cool Kids Are
Attending our first support group for teens brought a delightful surprise: kids with attention deficit are the fun ones. A look at the lighter side of these creative, self-aware blabbermouths.
Although Enzo’s symptoms were pretty obvious to me, it took a long time to get his diagnosis, and I had no idea what it would mean if we did. All I knew was we needed help. And as soon as the doctors could see what I saw, the doors really did open up into a world of support: classes every Friday on different topics surrounding ADHD:Understanding ADHD, Parenting Skills, Navigating School Support; family therapy; and best of all, a Tuesday group for both parents and teens.
When we first walked in, we had no idea what to expect, but felt immediately welcome. The kids sat around one side of the table, the parents around the other, and the two therapists at the head. The topic for the day was “What is Hard For Me,” but the subtext of the conversation — and every conversation, I was soon to learn — was “How My Parents Annoy Me.” The parents would listen, leave, and go talk amongst ourselves about the road ahead: getting our kids to own up to their limits and take responsibility for their power.
Over the next few months we’d get to know all of these kids pretty well, and their own particular struggles — hardworking Julie, who had to finish all her homework even if she never got any sleep; laid-back Frederick, who would rather read than do homework, hang out with friends, or even play video games; sullen Casey, who was addicted to his PS3; Suzi, who could only get an A in one class at at time; and funny, quirky Ellen who can’t stop talking. She and Enzo totally got along, and from her and her dad we borrowed the phrase “Thought bubble?” for when things start coming out of Enzo’s mouth that might just as well stay in his head.
I was so relieved to find out how cool all these kids were. In spite of their reputation for being obnoxious or lazy, kids with ADHD are often the ones with a different way of looking at things. They’re the class clowns, the interesting ones, the artists, the dreamers, the thinkers. I realized, the moment I walked in the door, that these are the people I’ve always been attracted to. These are smart people with their own point of view, people the world likes and needs...and I'm rooting for them all to get their act together.