I read this list of questions in the May issue of Parents regarding childhood mental illness. Or in more popular jargon, the volatile term, ADHD—attention defecit hyperactive disorder. Apparently if you answer “yes” to a number of these questions, you need to talk to a doctor. This is how I filled out the survey in my mind:
1) Does your child have trouble listening when you ask him to do something? (Um, I think there might have been this one time when there seemed to be, I don’t know, a touch of hesitation in my son’s voice when I asked him to say “Yes, Ma’am” to his mother. Maybe. But other than that, I can’t think of anything).
2) Is he excitable and fidgety? (Like waving or making hand gestures in church and probably needing a straight jacket to contain himself? Or changing positions every two seconds while sitting in a pew? Or won’t stop talking at the dinner table despite being repeatedly told to be quiet? No, really none of that here).
3) Is your home filled with conflicts over mealtime, bedtime, and brushing teeth? (Usually this is how it goes down in my home: ‘Hey guys, can we please put your toys away and get ready for bed? You know, kinda wind down a bit, kinda stop hitting your brother and taking his toys and kinda, you know, stop screaming at each other?’ And then like little plastic army toys they stand in line, brush their teeth, and get right in bed without a peep. Basic child behavior).
4) Has your child’s behavior ever caused concern to you or others? (Everyday, multiple times a day).
5) Is he easily distracted or forgetful? (What, me? or him? Can you repeat the question? “Honey, do you know where my work shoes are?” “You know we had that appointment today, right Eric?”).
6) Does he blame others for his shortcomings? (No, generally when I ask questions like, ‘Why did you slam your brother’s finger in the car door?’ he replies with things like ‘Well, sir, I would like to confess to you that, yes, I did do that and I am willing to take full responsiblity for my actions.’ You know, just general stuff here).
7) Does he sometimes have a hard time getting along with others? (Like other humans? I mean, if there are no humans around he seems to do pretty good. Like when he’s sleeping and what not).
I’m going to go on record here and say if you answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, your child is, indeed, a (sinful, fallen) human being. Or in a house full of boys, yes, your boys are (sinful) boys (in need of redemption). I don’t mean to sound like Tom Cruise standing on a couch during daytime television, but maybe giving a kid who fits this profile hard-core stimulants and antidepressants is a bit over-the-top. I also love how you need a NYU medical center study to confirm that children do indeed need boundaries and discipline initiated by the parents. How much was that study worth?
Anyway, I asked my four-year-old what he thought. Do you feel like you are often disruptive with your behavior? “Yes, a lot.” How often? “Uh, probably 15 days a week.” (For you math majors, that’s not even remotely possible) Do you need medicine? “No. I don’t think so… hold on, I’ll be right back, I have to go pee.” I’m pretty sure at that point he lost focus and left. Attention span, eh.