If you know me personally or even if you just know me through social media then you know my son, Lawson. My bright eyed, energetic fella burst onto the scene on May 25, 2005 & he has been entertaining us ever since. Fun Fact: Lawson was born the same night that Carrie Underwood won American Idol. My family & I vividly remember watching from my hospital room with our new addition:)
Lawson is now 12 and a half years old & sometimes our hearts (and our heads) want to explode because he is so special and he is just so many things. He is curious, smart, witty, rarely sleeps and has endless amounts of energy. He loves to play football, climb, build, ride four-wheelers & skateboards. He loves anything extreme that will get his adrenaline pumping. He has no fear when it comes to heights or oceans but jump out of a hallway when he is not expecting it and he will scream his head off (see scare cam videos on Instagram and Facebook). Law loves people like no one I have ever seen and has a heart the size of Texas. He has been praying like Billy Graham since he was 3 and has always talked about Jesus like he was talking about a friend. There is not a mean bone in Lawson’s body & he goes non-stop. We always say he is that kid that you can’t think up what to tell him not to do because you would never think of it in the first place.
My amazing boy has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and I’m not sure I ever really believed in ADHD until God wrapped it up in a blue bow and gave it to me. I know there are other Momma’s out there like me who may be tired and struggling, so this is for you & hopefully it will be educational for everyone. (Side note: you cannot spank ADHD out of a kid.)
Lawson was our first child so we knew no different and we thought all kids were live wires that never slowed down. Lawson started daycare when he was two years old and by three we had been kicked out of one. Ya’ll, it was a sweet little church daycare. I will never forget the day my husband and I went in to meet with the director and she told us that they just weren’t sure what to do and that we would have to leave. My husband immediately replied “Ya’ll are a church, you don’t even want to pray about it?” They didn’t. That was probably the day we knew but we did not get diagnosed until two years later in Kindergarten. Lawson’s teacher had a son that had ADHD and after teaching him for a month or two, she recognized it and encouraged us to get him tested. We went through all the testing with our pediatrician and a local psychiatrist and sure enough, sweet little Lawson was off the charts for ADHD. We started taking his “vitamin” soon there after and it was apparent that the ADHD med or “vitamin” as we so lovingly call it was definitely a benefit to him. Lawson is a straight A student, always on all the honor rolls, math team, he is a Duke Tip Scholar & a member of 2017-2018 Young Entrepreneur’s Academy so academics is not a problem for my boy. It is the “H” in ADHD that is the most active in Lawson. He is hyper and is impulsive. He has gained some control of his impulses as he has grown over the years but he still struggles more than average kids his age. He loves to laugh and he loves to have fun, so when he was 4, maybe he would pull another kid down the slide not out of meanness but because it was just so fun and he wanted everyone to experience it! Now at almost 13, his friends are just surpassing him in maturity, they are turning into teenagers and Law is not quite there yet. Other boys his age like to throw the football on the track at the varsity games and Law can stand that for a minute but then in an effort to make it more exciting, he catches the ball and runs to the other end of the school with it or throws it on top of the roof. That is annoying behavior that when repeated over and over makes it hard to keep friends. I know it is hard to be tolerant but gosh, I wish we could all be a little more tolerant of each other. If we could, the whole world, not just Lawson’s world, would be a lot different.
Lawson never slows down and it is exhausting but I know that if we can get him through these adolescent years, he is going to be a world changer. I truly believe he has been set apart and that’s not just a typical comment from a Mother who thinks her kid is the shiniest, everyone that meets Lawson draws this same conclusion. I am certainly not perfect and I don’t have this parenting gig figured out quite yet, so I often hurry Lawson along and lose my patience with him too. Just the other day I was running around like a maniac trying to get things done around the house and Law stopped me, held my face in his hands (like I often do to him) and told me to take deep breaths, count to ten and to smile. We went through the breathing exercise, I did smile and then he kissed me on the cheek. I said “Oh, Lawson, I sure am gonna miss you when you are grown up and gone.” Law immediately replied “Awe, Mom, time will go slow. I am only 12 and you know how long one day is with me sometimes.” God bless him! I immediately laughed out loud and thought to myself “Amen, Brother Ben” but then I also felt sad that he knew how tiring he is:)
It has just been in the last year that we have started talking with Lawson about ADHD, what it means, etc. We wanted to time it right and most of all wanted to present it in the most positive light because he has to know that nothing is wrong with him. We explained that he is wired exactly as God planned and that he was made in God’s image. It takes all kinds to make the world go round & that all of his traits can be used for good. Lawson does not get hung up on too much so I think we’re good:)
Brad and I recently watched a TED talk on ADHD. It was incredible! The speaker was a woman in her thirties who has had ADHD all her life. She said that “trying to get her brain to focus on anything she was not excited about was like trying to nail jello to the wall” (that actually sounds like something Law would try). She talked about how our behavior is affected by our brains and an ADHD brain, while often brilliant, is not the brain of an average person. I personally resist the urge to say normal because nothing is really normal & we should not try to define “normal”. I think we have to always understand the kind of brain we are working with, this is certainly true of educators who are working with kids but I think it also relates to parents, and just humans in general. We need to be able to understand what we are dealing with in any situation. If you have a kid with ADHD or even know one, you have probably wondered what in the world is going on inside their brain at times. Maybe you have even asked them.
I don’t have all the answers but I know ADHD is real and it is not due to a lack of parenting or discipline but it is in fact a neurological development disorder. It goes back to our brains (our whole operating system) that is acting and reacting differently than the average Joe’s brain. Lawson has explained it to us that it feels like a motor is running inside all the time and sometimes he tries to slow down or focus and just can’t. The TED talk speaker said her brain often felt like it was being flipped between thirty different channels and someone else was holding the remote. Along with regulating behavior, it is also hard for ADHD kids to regulate sleep. Lawson has not napped since he was 3 and today if he ever falls asleep on his own, we drive straight to the doctor because we know he is coming down with something. The other day he had an allergic reaction and I guess the Benadryl made him sleepy so he fell asleep and the very act of napping startled him. He ran to me saying “Mom, I fell asleep!” It’s okay buddy, it happens:)
I have been learning that there are two kinds of brains. A neurotypical brain is a brain like mine and like yours, they are non-ADHD brains. ADHD brains usually have a skewed sense of time and have trouble with a whole set of functions like organizing, prioritizing, regulating emotions, etc. On the bright side, these same people walking around with ADHD brains also have so much to offer! They are kind, intuitive, funny, generous, etc. The TED talk speaker said that “ADHD people are 300 times more likely to start a business. They don’t just think outside of the box, they are often unaware there even is a box.” So true! She ended her talk by saying “It is not about someone who fidgets non-stop or doesn’t try hard enough. It is about brains that are chronically not aroused & are trying to get the stimulation that all brains need. Society is a users manual – we learn how our brains and bodies work by watching those around us. When yours works differently, it can feel like you are broken. You are not weird, you are not broken. You are different, you are beautiful and you are not alone.”
I took a few pages of notes and teared up a little as she spoke because I could so clearly see my Lawson in her. If you are parenting an ADHD kid, you are not alone either. Keep advocating for your kid and the good news is that the rewards of parenting are so much greater than the frustrations. Study about ADHD or whatever plagues your kid, listen to podcasts, read books, find a community and just familiarize yourself with your kid’s brain. You will be glad you did.
Things don’t often bother Lawson & he is usually blissfully unaware that he is bothering anyone. We always say this is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he is oblivious to how kids feel about him sometimes but it is a curse for that same reason because the switch that tells him to stop or leave them alone never comes on. Lawson is rarely unhappy and it is always easy to tell when he is downcast or has had a rough day and we usually have to pry info out of him. He does not like to tell us if someone has hurt his feelings because he doesn’t want us to think less of the kid! Isn’t that something? We could all use a little dose of ADHD brain if that is part of it:) He just cares deeply for others and wants so badly for people to do the right things & I think he often thinks he can change people (he has certainly tried with his sister who does not like to hug or talk as much as he does) & mostly he just wants to protect people. Here is an example: Lawson and I made a quick grocery store run last night but there are so many eye catching objects in the grocery store that a trip with Law rarely turns out to be quick so when we finally got to the check out line I told him to help unload the buggy. He was looking at the tabloids above the checkout counter. I proceeded to tell him a few more times to unload the cart & by the time he was done fidgeting with the magazines I finished unloading so then I told him to come bag the groceries. I was growing ever more frustrated with how long it was taking him to get in gear. He started bagging things up and said “Sorry, Mom, I just wanted to hide those magazines. Did you see the headlines?” No, Lawson, I never stopped to read the headlines. “It was awful. It was about terrorists & all of these things that they are planning to do. Nobody needs to see and read that. It could ruin someone’s day.” God bless his sweet little soul. He was trying to protect strangers that might be reading in the checkout line. He was quite relieved when I told him it was a tabloid and not usually accurate or true. While bagging our groceries, he also made conversation with the grocery clerk, Camille, but he has probably never seen that name so he called her KA MILLIE. Where are the laughing emoji’s on this blog because that was funny?!? I need to insert a good laughing emoji every now and then. I quickly corrected him and lessened her confusion once she realized he was just attempting to call her by name:)
At the end of the day, Lawson is amazing, and confident and resilient and it is our job to do our best to keep him tender and not let the world chew him up and spit him out. My boy has the most beautiful spirit I have ever known and I just want to keep it in tact until he is grown up and can guard it himself. Thanks to all of you Lawson fans that love him and keep him lifted up on the regular. He is missing the social queues that the rest of us were born with but what he lacks in social queues he makes up with heart and a little button that requires him to give no less than 2,500 hugs per day. Thank you, Lord for the sweet gift of Lawson.
Please contact me if you or someone you know is in need of ADHD resources! Once you know the issues you can look for solutions! In the words of Morticia Addams from the Addams F-A-M-I-L-Y: “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider, is chaos for the fly.”
God bless you!