Dear Blue–

by nicolecallihan

Dear Blue–

Would you have any advice or ideas on how to calmly deal with a child diagnosed with ADHD?


Troubled Gemini

Dear Gem–

When I put out a blanket Facebook request for “questions” I imagined a thousand different answers I might give. Wear a yellow scarf, I’d say, or, Just go back home and love on her, or, The ability to operate a cordless power drill goes a long way in making you feel powerful. But then your question came.

I love, by the way, how you use the word “calmly,” as if to say that we all know how to deal un-calmly; we all know that spine-surge to pinch, to yell, to maybe even throw just one thing because for-Chrissakes-I-need-you-to-listen-to-me!

But calmly. Calmly.

There’s breathing, of course. For you. For her. Lots of breathing. Lots of audible inhales, reminders that there’s plenty of oxygen, plenty of space in the world, plenty of time, some day even if it feels forever away, that you two won’t be together, that you’ll be separated.

Last week at the tail end of summer, one of my dear friends came up to our country house. She doesn’t suffer from ADHD but, having just turned forty, she’s going through this unsettledness, this quickness of mind and body, this distracted texting, and she’s wearing cut-off’s and rolling her own cigarettes, and for the past six months or so, I’ve felt very far away from her.

I think that’s what we’re talking about: distance. How can I deal with someone, calmly deal with someone, who appears to be right in front of me but is not seeing me? And how can I do this without totally checking out?

Let’s see, Gem, for me, it’s poems and walking right beside the person, maybe even letting our shoulders touch, and being near the water, even if it’s just the sound of a fountain.

A couple of weeks ago I was having issues with my daughter, Eva, who’s almost four. She kept saying no to me, and I felt like I was going to lose it. I called the Nursery School director and asked her what I should do. She told me to hug her. She told me to remember that Eva is three, that her job in life is to tell me no and to define herself, and that my job is to make sure she’s defining herself in a way that’s appropriate to the world. Hug her, she said, and I did.

Have you ever heard of Temple Grandin’s “Hug Machine”? I don’t think it’s the answer. But it might be. I guess anything could be. I want to tell you to get a fish tank and start every morning with a poem. Examine your reactions; try not to take anything personally, and for goodness sake, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Floss. Up your Omega-3’s. But all of that amounts to nothing if the distance is still there.

Maybe it does go back to breath, that reminder of being alive, being together. Savor it, even if, at the moment, it seems unsavory. Let it be, and be with it. I think that will make it easier. If it doesn’t, try the fishtank, and if that fails you too, there are always yellow scarves.

Still breathing,