Road Trip Dysfunctional Family-Style Part 1

‘I’ve never been so fucking hot!’ Kurt shouts, as his toes touch hot sand for the first time in twelve months.

“I’ve never been so fucking cold!” he squeals like a girl, five minutes later, as his white body braces itself against the first wave in the ocean.

The old man and I must have patted ourselves at least twelve times on the back for our good fortune – part of our joint resolution to remain positive since NYE – since we commenced our family holiday with our son, Kevin the teenager.

Anyone would think that we had dragged Mr Entitled from the middle-class lower north shore of Sydney into some dangerous war zone or ghetto such has been his disgust at being dragged away from his highly-achieving and distinctly dodgy peers on a road trip up to Byron Bay with his parents.

THE SHAME OF HOLIDAYING WITH YOUR FAMILY! Stuff doesn’t get more ‘fuckin shit’ than being seen by someone you know when you’re on holiday with your parents, if you’re a seventeen year old with street cred to think about.

Yes, I did say we have come to Byron Bay. Not the obvious choice of holiday destination (as our therapist reminded us) for a dysfunctional family trying to steer clear their free-spirited and permanently troubled teenager from the wilder temptations of the city.

Byron Bay, for those of you not from Australia, is one of the dope havens of Australia – a paradise known for the happiness of its heyday and modern-day hippies, complete with tie-dye tee-shirts, dodgy cookies, floral headpieces and sweet-smelling free love with a contemporary vibe of healthy eating, blues music and beach culture.

Every time I dare utter the word ‘road trip’ encouragingly, my son snarls at me like some vengeful caged animal. I had foolishly thought a road trip would appeal to the boy, but I am also aware that my new definition of mother is to always be wrong these days.

I’m trying to keep a smile on my face as Kurt and the old man bicker about EVERYTHING, and at how (and in spite of a decent education) my son can use the F word as a verb, noun and adjective in every sentence.

He has also managed to tell us at least twenty-five times how much he hates us and this holiday and even called us ‘Nazi Parents’ the other day, at which the old man and I hugged each other gleefully with the knowledge that perhaps we’re not the bad parents that our therapists likes to paint us as.

This trip is obviously parental penance in its most evil form, yet there have been a couple of blink-and-you-miss-it ‘moments’ where Kurt forgets his alter-ego of Kevin The Teenager and actually enjoys himself, that have made the holiday almost worthwhile.

The discovery of Sapphire Beach, where there was not another soul in sight, warm water to calm the nerves and the sight of my usually sun-resistant son frolicking in and out of the waves was the first. And I can only recall two minor moans, relating to his inability to wear ‘stupid, f…cking thongs’ and his ‘sore fucking sunburn’.

Those naughty Byron men who run the Internet, however, must have been smoking too much of the funny stuff, unfortunately, because it is no way near as fast as the speed with which Kurt exits the ocean the minute a single grain of salt gets in his eyes, so I will sign off here before I throw this ‘fucking shite’ computer out of the window.

Helping Your ADHD Child Cram For Exams

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...
English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Kurt sat his first real exam today.


As in the FIRST exam he has considered important.


He has sat the Naplan tests in the past, but he said they didn’t count.


He has a point.


It was certainly the first English exam he’d ever studied for – if you define ‘study’ as drumming on the table while your mother coerces out of you the importance of language techniques using medieval torture techniques. Unfortunately, ‘language techniques’ don’t light Kurt’s fire in the way that drug-fuelled music does.


But he was very proud that he had read the FIRST HALF of ONE of his three English texts.



Luckily, I have Einstein’s quote ‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life thinking it’s stupid,’ tattooed on my ass, to remind me, at times such as these. 


I sincerely hope there is a special place in heaven for tutors and online study aids.


When he sat his English Naplan test in Year 9, I was quite surprised when I received his grade for creative writing because normally this is the area he bullshits performs best in. When I asked him what he had written about, he told me he wrote ‘nothing’, because he didn’t agree with the tone of the question! 

Description unavailable
Description unavailable (Photo credit: Ernst|Photography)


So that is what we are up against.

And then, of course, there is his very literal interpretation of the questions sometimes, where in answer to extended response commands such as ‘how’ or ‘what’ or ‘explain’, he believes that a one-word answer will suffice.


I attempted to coach him some exam technique for these first half-yearly exams.


A difficult task when he is still so glaringly livid that ‘study leave’, which he had interpreted as an extended school holiday, is actually a time for revision.


Luckily, he managed to get on top of his Top Gear revision.


Difficult too, because I was already in the doghouse for trying to ‘support’ him in other ways when I requested ‘special provisions’ from his school. These are available for kids with learning disabilities, such as ADHD. It means they can get a five-minute break every now and again during the exam, or perhaps a little extra time or be put in a quiet room so that when another student starts chewing on their pen to aid their own concentration, Kurt won’t watch him for the next thirty minutes and lose his.


Kurt was horrified when I told him.


‘Why don’t you just tattoo ‘dickhead’ across my forehead and be done with it,’ he complained.


I decided it might be wise NOT to remind him about his special provisions this morning, just prior to the ‘WORST DAY OF HIS LIFE,’ because he was cross enough at the audacity of the Department of Education for making him sit still for TWO WHOLE HOURS!


But apparently, once the students were all sat down quietly in the hall and just about to start the exam, the deputy came in and shouted out ‘KURT COBAIN’ and demanded that he come out to the front of the hall.


Kurt shuffled his way up towards the front of the large hall, but unfortunately the woman didn’t see him behind his fringe at first and so she shouted his name out again in an even louder voice,




I have been deleted from his life for the foreseeable future.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Time Out Strategies for Mums of Children With ADHD

Time Out We are working with Kurt’s new school to help find strategies for him in the classroom, so that he and his teachers have some chance of survival until the end of the school year.

Common strategies might include a shared signal that the teacher will give to him when he is beginning to be too disruptive or loud.

The rude finger is apparently not currently in the Department of Education’s Guide to Good Teaching Handbook.

Another strategy is that the school has provided Kurt with is a fantastic ‘get out of jail free’ red card, which is a way of showing respect for his special needs (but which he has unfortunately renamed the ‘Loser Card’, and vowed never to implement). He can show this card to the teacher if he is beginning to feel frustrated or overwhelmed and needs some time out.

Time out options do not include having a fag, popping down to the shop for an iced bun or chatting up the Year 12 girls, much to his disgust. He is given ten minutes in either the library or with a nominated teacher in which to calm down.

Due to the well-meaning, rather avant-garde methodology of his new psychiatrist, who believes that ultimately we need Kurt to come off his medication and learn to manage his ADHD, (which we agree with, even though the psychiatrist doesn’t actually live with Kurt and his foibles), Kurt has now decided not to take his medication at the weekends.

This decision actually has nothing to do with Kurt wanting to manage his ADHD but is primarily for the aesthetic reason that the medication suppresses his appetite and he finds it hard to gain weight.

Poor Kurt!

Entering Year 11 and a new school, he is becoming increasingly more aware of his body image and his physical appeal to girls. Ironically, girls don’t like male stick insects that have no pause button on their vocal chords, even if they do play guitar, so he reckons if he can build some muscle tone, the girls will be so overcome by his physical beauty and charm, they will overlook his skinny frame and obsessions with quoting Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear, being an Eminem clone (and I believe the only white or black rapper on the Lower North Shore) and drumming everything in sight.

This weekend was a particularly trying one for me due to the excitement/anxiety created by his impending school camp this week (what we like to call our 3 day holiday). So I jokingly asked Kurt last night if I could have my own red card for when I need time out.

What people who have no experience of ADHD fail to understand is that unlike the ADHD kids shown on ill-researched and sensationalist programmes generally transmitted by the ABC, the problems associated with ADHD do not only stem from hyperactivity and there are a several social situations where that red card could come in pretty fucking handy at times for close family members:

Like when Kurt has talked loudly and persistently for six hours, generally within 2” of your face at all times and without the understanding that taking turns to talk is a social grace.

Or when you try to watch a film like we did last night and have to pause it a minimum of eight times while he interrupts with ‘ something really important’ to tell you, like what he is wearing to school the following day, the Arctic Monkeys new song, how hot this girl in English is and if I think his pecs have grown over the past twenty-four hours. He will come and sit with us half way through the film and ask question after question about who is who, what has happened over the past hour and when will it finish while simultaneously fiddling with at least three different things on the coffee table, noisily.

Or when he starts drumming at 10pm at night.

Or when you go to the beach and he calls at least six times to ask when you are coming home.

So I asked him what signal or card would work for us, so that instead of shouting at him I could ask for time out. My suggestion of making the cross sign with my thumb and forefinger was received with shock (obviously too far!) as was my suggestion of a dummy remote control. So for the moment, we remain at the strategy that has worked for the past sixteen years whereby I eventually lose the plot’ and flip my lid because I begin to feel like a caged animal in my own home,  (because I’m human and not perfect), then run away and lock myself in my bedroom and Kurt knocks on my door until I come back out again.

My Boy’s All Grown Up

So the boy is finally growing up.

A Brand New James Bond by S Marcu
A Brand New James Bond by S Marcu at

He didn’t scrub up too badly for his Formal, once I wiped the Nutella off his chin and exchanged the safety pin earring for a diamante stud.

He was almost Beckham-esque in stature.

It hurt physically to shop and buy his formal outfit together. A nagging ache of loss. How quickly they seem to grow up, spend all your money and then disappear from your life.

God, I sound old.

Having said that, the hurt was quickly diffused by the inevitable bitching in the shop over how much I was willing to spend, his begrudging acceptance that a white Target $10 shirt does look the same as the Top Man equivalent and my resulting hyperventilation when he told me how much his date’s corsage was going to cost ME.

But the Year 10 formal is evidently a coming-of-age event for Australian teenagers and who am I to argue?

I can admit to being still a little peeved that the Traxedo that we ordered from the States, at huge expense, was dismissed as being ‘silly’ when he secured himself a date and surmised (discerningly) that she might not approve.

That ‘disempowerment’ that the old man accuses me of, obviously starts young.

I watched my boy as he stood there in the Target changing room in his hybrid (part Target, part posh shop) tuxedo, trying to imitate James Bond.

And for the first time, all I could see was his dad.

It might have been the impulsive buzz cut that he tortured me with last week when he suddenly decided to shave off his dreadlocks, (so he now looks as bald as his dad a coot), or it might have been because he inherited those tiny eagle eyes that the old man insists are from Royal Polish ancestry. (Although NC still insists that I must have slept with an Asian somewhere down the track). Funny, those eyes may be small but they can pick up every item of money I spend that appears on the bank statement.

But watching our son reminded me of our Formal together, all those years ago.

Because the old man and I were ‘an item’ for Year 11 and 12 – before we parted for five years to greener grasses and some experimental loving.

(For some reason the old man insists I spent those five years in a nunnery).

But nearly thirty years later, there I was, dressing our son in his first tuxedo, just like I dressed the old man all those years again. (And I still haven’t learnt how to tie a bow tie).

There’s that circle of life thing again – it fucking haunts you all the way.

Of course I threatened him with every punishment ever invented if he misbehaved at the Formal. (Kurt that is). We had the talk AGAIN about alcohol, drugs, consent, sex and rock n’roll and he rolled his eyes and looked at me like I obviously had no idea about what it was like to be young. I didn’t mention that the old man and I got caught climbing back into the window of our school at 5am after our Formal night and were promptly suspended.

Thoughts of him as a baby boy came to mind. He was impulsive even then, and couldn’t wait to get out there immediately to start living his life properly so that my sixteen years of worry could officially commence.

He exploded out of my exhausted body only twenty minutes after we arrived at the hospital and he was that super big it felt like I was pushing a whole tray of melons out, rather than a solitary one.

TBH, he was as fat as a Buddha, which was unfortunate. We try not to mention it.

He wasn’t an attractive baby like NC had been, (once that excessive body hair had fallen out), and I would cry inside when people popped their heads in the pram to take a peep and then say nothing.

But the Buddha weight shifted quickly with the hyperactivity and the medication – (although unfortunately that combination has yet to work for me).

He is now slim and chiseled, although still a misunderstood boy, who already thinks he is a man of the world. He knows everything, of course – that goes with the territory of being a teenager. In fact he has always been known as ‘Google’ in our house for that very reason, although to me he has always been my ‘Bunny’, much to his mortification.

He hates it if I call him Bunny now, especially in front of his friends.

He is a perfectionist with OCD tendencies when he is anxious, and everything has to be just so; whereas I am more last-minute and laissez-faire, and I know it drives him insane.

When I smudged a great big black stain on the collar of his formal shirt the night before the event, I thought he was going to metamorphose into the Incredible Hulk. ‘Manically incredulous’ might be a good description of his reaction to another example of my ineptitude to be the ‘perfect mother’ he craves.

When I suggested making a corsage for his date, he was horrified.

We spar now, more than ever, because he is becoming a man and needs to break the invisible umbilical chord that has held us together this long.

I understand that.

It upsets me how much he has struggled through the first sixteen years of his life with the limitations caused by his ADHD, that have caused friendship issues, struggles with his emotions and poor self-esteem.

I just want other people to ‘get him’ like I do. Surely I can’t be the only one who sees that hurt in his eyes when he realizes his mistakes.

I used to be able to make things right for him by wrapping him up tightly in a mummy cuddle, but he doesn’t let me now. In fact sometimes he flinches if I get too close, because he doesn’t know how to vent those emotional frustrations.

But it’s a new dawn and in a way I’m glad he can take it out on me rather than the wall like he used to, or with drugs. And when he pushes me away, I know that’s just part of him trying to find his way, an independence of sorts; for him that’s a little harder than for most.

Eventually he will mature fully and learn to recognize his own strengths and greatness.

I recognized them sixteen years ago.

The Lethal Cocktail of ADHD And Depression

Deutsch: Cocktail
Deutsch: Cocktail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve had a bad week with Kurt.

You might remember that in my last post I caught myself foolishly romanticizing about how fantastic life was – it was like I’d discovered God or something and would be joining those rockster Christians in our local church on Sunday for a non-alcoholic drink and a session eulogising the joys of ‘giving’.

But anxiety says that dumb attitudes like that always precede a big mother fucking fall, and inevitably the euphoria was short-lived as reality banged rudely on our door once again.

ADHD can be a bitch like that. The only positive thing you can say about mental illness, is that it’s certainly never boring or predictable.

I sat in an ADHD support group last week, trying not to laugh hysterically as I listened to this fantastic speaker, Caroline Stevenson, reaffirm what life is truly like with ADHD kids. She talked of highs and lows, sinking and swimming – drowning a lot.

As she pointed out, ADHD is a very different animal to other mental disorders. Where other mental illnesses provoke pity, caring and support, ADHD is much more reactive and controversial. These kids can test your limits all the time – they can be angry and make you angry, oppositionally defiant, sly and (as she put it), fucking ‘annoying’ at times. (I might have added the F word).

Sometimes, they are very hard to love.

Mix depression into that blend, a pinch of anxiety and the general horrors of full-blown teenage-dom and you have the recipe for chaos.

After the fallout at the beginning of the year when we first arrived in Gotham City, (and the shit hit the proverbial fan), things had settled down recently to a suspiciously calmer pace. Kurt had tried and tested the delights of Glee School and its bounty of illicit goody bags and girls, and I assumed that the novelty of city life had worn off to a steadier grind.

The old man and I breathed again.

Kurt has been ‘happy’ of late, aided by a concoction from his psychiatrist, although he has put his outlet of music on the back burner while focusing for the first time on the social side of his life and new school.  He objects to his medication, saying that it thwarts his creativity – but at least those terrifying angry outbursts which often led to cutting, (which is terrifying as a parent), had dissipated for the time being.

He continued to hyper focus on the 27 Club, of course. He soaks up everything about his idol Kurt Cobain, and is as admiring of his behaviour offstage almost as much as his music, sadly.

But then something snapped.

It can be the tiniest trigger with ADHD – a falling out with a mate, me being less patient than I should be due to the balance of work and parenting or putting my own needs first, or simply from tiredness towards the end of term and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of relentless assignments, (that he has no hope of completing).

He buys sharpeners with my money and unscrews the blades to cut his arms. This is the same boy who screams in pain when I tweeze his mono-brow or put his earring back in.

And then I freak out and blow everything out of proportion because I am his mum and that’s what mums do and I can’t bear the thought of life without my ‘mad’ son. And that triggers the old man to become Mr Angry because he doesn’t have the emotional tools to deal with a child he can’t understand. Which in turn triggers NC to defend her Dad, and get all bitchy because her loony brother is taking over again and the family revolves around his needs like stars orbiting in the Kurt solar system.

He’s not actually ‘OK’, you see, if you measure ‘ok’ on the sanity chart with ‘conventional’ being ok.

And he probably never will be.

Suicide is my biggest fear. We all know that ADHD mixed with depression has the potential to lead to suicide.

I try to undo the damage caused by the missing Dopamine in his head at every opportunity, but sometimes the sheer frustration of not being able to get through to this human being that I created turns me into a mad woman too. When you are terrified that your child will hurt itself, the parenting rules go out of the window.

How can I punish him or shout at him? What if he does something stupid?

God, I would miss him. He is part of me, a huge part of me. It would be like someone opening my body and ripping out my insides. I am so like him. There is a bigger connection than normal, (almost perversely so), because genetically we have many of the same traits, only mine are not as extreme as his – perhaps my wires are not quite as tangled as his or I was able to develop the coping strategies to manage my shit better.

I want him to understand the preciousness of life and how much we love him, but I can’t get through to him. He smiles sympathetically when I try to tell him my fears, but I know that he doesn’t understand them.

On a good day, his ambition in life is about making his mark and leaving the world on a high. Which is what he thinks Kurt did.

On a bad day, he can’t even see a way out.

Mental illness sucks. I defy anyone to say that eventually a ‘pull yourself together’ attitude works. There is a chasm there, a black hole of chemical imbalance that defies logic.

If only my biggest fear for my teenage son was his HSC score or him drinking too much alcohol, rather than him taking his own life. If only I could be certain of that suicide cocktail not becoming lethal.

Teenage Dating and Sibling Baggage


So Nerd Child casually slipped into the conversation that a male friend of hers would be staying over at Dysfunctionality house next week.

Just like that.

My Mumdar was alerted to something definitely very fishy behind that statement, but I initially ignored it – because I was busy. You know what it’s like when you’re multi-tasking? At the time, I was downing a bottle of wine in preparation for Kurt’s parents evening, and so couldn’t possibly be expected to think clearly.

Certainly not straight enough to grasp the obvious, underlying implications, anyway.

Kids can be selfish like that. They always choose the worst moments to dump something huge on you.

But then a sixth sense, (possibly the so-far elusive ‘parenting’ sense) sniffed out the teenage angst behind her words.

‘What did you say?’ I eventually asked, when it finally hit me that my daughter might actually be trying to ‘tell’ me something quite important, (and once again I was failing dismally in my role as confidante).

‘This friend’s coming to stay over,’ she repeated, looking in obvious pain.

‘But friends stay over all the time,’ I said, ‘so what’s the problem?’

‘Well…this one hasn’t met Kurt before,’ she stammered.

My fuddled brain finally began to make the connections Nerd Child’s already had. (To do this, I had to think of it how NC would be thinking, formulaically):

NC + potential boyfriend + good impression + KURT!!!!! = DISASTER!!!!

So before I could move into any potential mother-in-law mode, of planning extended family Sunday lunches, arranging their wedding, knitting booties and putting my grandchildren’s names down for Skeggs, it suddenly dawned on me why she might be a little anxious about this impending visit.

Her sibling baggage.


‘Okaaaaay,’ I started, my hackles beginning to rise in defense of our misunderstood (and quite obviously) mad-as-a-hatter son – her brother.

But then I saw it; the innate fear behind the usually cool, calm exterior. Nerd Child was actually terrified of Kurt showing her up – this guy must be a bit more important than the previous victims of her lair.

The siblings of kids with special needs are often forgotten about, even though they can be as affected as the parents by their sibling’s needs, and Nerd Child is no exception. Kurt is a tour de force in our house; his mood dictates the ambiance of the house; his noise is always in the foreground; he creates the eggshells that we all walk on.

For a more reserved, cerebral teenager like NC, her ADHD brother’s presence, the extreme way he lives his life and the way in which he manipulates the family, must be highly stressful. It’s not normal to see your 16 year old brother stomp naked through the house, to have to go out with him in just his pajamas, to miss events because he refuses to come at the last minute……

‘Tell me what I need to do,’ I asked her.

‘You mean, because sending him away to fight the war in Afghanistan or locking him in his room might not be considered humane?’ she joked.

‘Yes, because no matter how difficult life with your brother can be, he is part of your family and you must never be ashamed of your family,’ I replied.

The history of NC, Kurt and any of her potential suitors has been a little fraught. Kurt has three major loves in his life – having an audience, older male mentors and cigarettes – (this is quite typically ADHD behavior). So when a potential suitor bravely crosses the threshold of Dysfunctionality House, eager to please and bond with NC’s younger brother, Kurt latches onto him like a newborn to a nipple, often leaving NC out in the cold. If the guy plays a musical instrument, shows an interest in Top Gear or smokes, NC is doomed. Within 24 hours, her brother will be sharing the guy’s bed, discussing the merits of different bands with him, forcing earphones in his ears at full volume to MAKE him listen to them.

It’s going to take a certain type of guy to take on Kurt Nerd Child with her particular sibling baggage.

Her statement to me was about us needing to make some ground rules now for such occasions – to prioritize her needs for a change.

I immediately recognized that this would involve blackmail, negotiation and lots of money and/or Coco Pops.

She handed me her list of rules for Kurt:

  • No nudity
  • No jokes about her breasts
  • No sex jokes (in general)
  • No playing songs and forcing the poor guy to listen to them with threatening behaviour
  • No shouting, screaming, singing (especially the ‘Big Penis’ song) or jumping up and down for no tangible reason
  • No inviting him to smoke ANYTHING
  • No dressing of aforementioned victim suitor in Kurt’s spare Tigger or Eeyore onesie.

They sounded like reasonable requests to me.

But upon further consideration, we decided to arrange for Kurt to sleep over at the house of a fellow lunatic.

How To Cope With ADHD For Breakfast

English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the lit...
English: Symptoms of ADHD described by the literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kurt is particularly vocal in the morning; some might call it manic.

Which makes it hard for the rest of us Dysfunctionals, because none of us are particularly great in the morning.

ADHD for breakfast is not how I would choose to start my day.

I’m a lot better than I used to be in the morning, as long as I’m left to quietly get on with what I have to do. If provoked, however, I have a tendency to react like a disturbed snake and attack aggressively.

My brain simply isn’t geared up to tolerance before 8am.

Nerd Child rarely awakes before midday so she generally escapes the madness fest that is our morning routine. She is a night bird and can happily stay up until two in the morning reading about the latest scientific discoveries on Time on-line or pinning pretty images of rocks and constellations on Pinterest.

The old man used to be good in the morning, before the weight of responsibility grabbed him by the balls. He still bounds out of bed like a toddler at the weekend, excited at the prospect of freedom, but from Monday to Friday he avoids the family like a bear with a sore head, dragging his neon cycling runners around the house, Lycra crunching harmoniously.

Unfortunately, once out of bed, Kurt is at his most deliriously manic in the morning.

Morning mania is apparently very common with ADHD.

He makes his presence known as soon as he is up with his bellows of the latest and crudest rap song in the shower. Within the first few bars of his booming baritone voice bouncing off the double brick walls, Nerd Child harmonizes with a continuous ‘shut up, Kurt’ and the old man starts slamming doors in protest, (before slinking out of the back door at the first opportunity).

This is ADHD for breakfast.

I used to get involved as soon as warfare was declared on the first floor. I would attempt to referee, try to calm Kurt the f*ck down, appease the others, but I now reserve those crucial energy supplies for the 30 minutes between Kurt bursting out of the shower and leaving the house for the station.

Until I pop those magic pills in his mouth, breakfasting with Kurt is tantamount to having a loud, over-grown and very resistant toddler in your face.

Typical ADHD factors that contribute to the high-intensity breakfasting experience are anxiety, poor organisation, tiredness and OCD.

They can trigger the following disputes :

School clothes – Kurt never wears anything twice due to his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so every item of clothing has to be washed religiously as soon as it is worn. At the moment he will only wear one pair of undies. Kurt has always hated wearing clothes which is a symptom of his hypersensitivity to sensory stimulus. If he had the choice, he would be a naturist and  in a permanent state of undress at home. In the morning, he walks around naked as he gathers together those clothes that pass his personal quality control. Having your teenage son’s penis in your face while eating your Muesli can be confronting.

Tick tock, tick tock….

Train and bus passes – where the f*ck do they go? These disappear daily or they don’t come home at all – organisation is poor with ADHD.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Medication – even though Kurt knows he benefits from his medication, it becomes a battle of wills between us at 7am.  ‘I’ve decided that I’m not going to take my medication today,’ is his typical provocation, which is generally the point at which my blood pressure begins to escalate and I first begin to think about wine.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Homework – breakfast is often the time that I discover that Kurt hasn’t done the assignment that was handed out three weeks ago and he fundamentally doesn’t give a sh*t anyway. I reserve time to get on the computer for making brown-nosing apologies to teachers and to beg for extensions.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Food  – Kurt’s ideal breakfast diet comprises of biscuits and cakes. A ‘success’ for me is an Up N’Go or a bowl of cereal; a ‘win’ might be some protein. Sometimes I just think f*ck it! (because I am human after all) and I let him eat what he wants. Choice is too overwhelming for kids with ADHD – what I should do is just buy 6 packets of the same cereal.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Organisation for School – Why I still bother with this at 7am in the morning, I have no idea? On more rational days I simply send an email to the school once he has gone.

Tick tock, tick tock…

Negotiations –  These usually pertain to the difference of opinion between us regarding when I would like him to be back from school and when he wants to come back. Negotiations usually end with a defiant ‘well, I’ll come back when I want to,’ no matter what I say. Generally, though, he will think about this later and come back when I have asked him to. For the moment.

However confronting this behaviour seems, it’s funny how the most bizarre behaviours can become the norm after a while.

As the clock ticks on, I am aware that every minute counts as my son becomes distracted by anything and everything in his path; from the dog offering her ball for playtime to advertisements on the television. Kurt needs to be on the train by 8.15am for him to have any chance of making it to school on time. If he manages to secretly put Top Gear on the television, I know that our time management for that morning is doomed and I will be receiving another ‘ late’ text from school with underlying ‘bad parent’ knuckle rap.

Which is usually when I begin to think about wine again.

The clock continues to tick, the old man tuts again and the dog hides as I continue to try and negotiate with my big fifteen year old boy, all the while trying to avoid making eye contact with his exposed member.

Everything I have read on the subject of ADHD with breakfast (and there is a lot of content out there) suggests that it is the parent who needs to accommodate the ADHD child in the morning, because they are overloaded. And as much as I want to make my child more independent, I also want him to succeed and not feel like a failure in this aspect of his life too.

Kids With ADHD Need Support and ‘Scaffolding’.

Therefore, I have now taken on board the suggestions from Diane at Impact ADHD on how to get Kurt out of the door without losing the plot help Kurt in the mornings:

  • Make sure he has taken his Melatonin the night before to help with sleep
  • Set two separate alarms to help him wake up
  • Give him ten minute reminders after the alarms
  • Agree to his breakfast the night before and set it out for him with his meds
  • Put a schedule on the fridge for him to refer to
  • Make sure either he or I have his uniform ready in his room the night before and his school bag packed
  • Help him organise his homework on time

What I Learnt About Teenage Boys This Week

Teenage Boys 

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may be aware that our ‘hotel’ was fully booked this week, with an influx of British testosterone; in the shape of three eighteen-year-old teenage boys.

We had never met these boys before, which might have been a potentially awkward situation. And it was.

Their friend, our nephew, (who we used to be very close to, before he thrust this scale 10 level of awkwardness upon us, was supposed to accompany them, and was the reason they had been allocated the best room in the hostel), conveniently broke his arm whilst drunk playing rugby the week before they were due to arrive; not surprisingly, there was no room at any of the other ‘free’ inns in Sydney.

We’ve since been informed that aforementioned prodigal nephew has a new girlfriend!

When I told my friends who have eighteen-year-old sons about ‘the boys’ imminent arrival, they sighed and quickly changed the subject.

So I awaited their visit with obvious trepidation.

‘Normal’ eighteen-year-old boys are an unknown entity to me. (And for those of you who err on the side of political correctness, don’t worry, the ADHDer will revel at that inference – he was proud to pimp his ‘difference’ at every opportunity during their stay). And if anyone did happen to notice the boy in the pink rabbit onesie, smoking and swilling from a bottle of Vodker in Darling Harbour this week, allow me to introduce my son.

Nerd Child was indifferent. In her world, unless a boy knows the elements of the Periodic Table, they are not worthy.  She was nonetheless disgruntled at having to surrender her bathroom to boy germs.

However, we were given a helpful character assassination of the three by my brother-in-law in advance – apparently, one was a puker, one had a habit of getting lost and one of them was reassuringly quiet. (We never did actually meet the quiet one).

So the old man and I made our preparations.

We wrote off sleep for the five nights of their visit and downloaded the entire series of Game of Thrones for the long evenings, while we waited for our wards to return back to the hostel safely from whichever debauchery or crime they had committed in Sydney.

I also surpassed my all-time Christmas record at Woollies, spending in excess of a month’s rent on carbohydrates and protein. I then watched the old man shake his head in disbelief as he entered the cost on his spreadsheet.

Our three tired backpackers duly arrived, (I assumed) ready to paint the town red, and we hurriedly concealed them in the attic before the neighbours spotted them.

Kurt Cobain (front) and Krist Novoselic (left)...
Kurt Cobain (front) and Krist Novoselic (left) live at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kurt Cobain, (the ADHDer’s new alter-ego and we’re not worried!) reacted in atypical fashion to their arrival, contriving to appear even more flagrantly bizarre (if that’s possible) in comparison to the three ‘normal’ healthy male teenagers from the other side of the world, his Porkpie hat permanently askew on his head, cigarette dangling from his mouth, (when he thought I wasn’t looking), reedy, white and undernourished body swamped in colourful Indie cast-offs – the very antithesis to the stereotypical ‘Australian’ youth.

The boys were obviously bemused and a little confused

And unfortunately Kurt was in a particularly belligerent mood, still seething from his two week grounding, (and every other punishment we thought was enforceable), our parental retribution for his recent rule-breaking shenanigans at school last term (and Darling Harbour, of course).

The boys’ arrival signified ‘change’ to Kurt and Kurt does not do change happily.

His main fear, (that they would be ‘jock’ types and bring a ball), was justified as soon as they appeared at our front door with their sparkling white teeth, obvious biceps and football in hand. I watched Kurt look at them with thinly veiled disdain.

The old man, however, came into his own in the presence of the three red-blooded male accomplices. The intricacy of every sport ever created was discussed at length at the dinner table and I listened to him brag (again) about the weekly average of units of alcohol he consumed at university, while our visitors yawned politely, a small price to pay for hot showers, breakfast and a bed.

There was actually a point when I thought that these perfect specimens of teenagers from the UK, were not real teenagers. There was a minimal amount of grunting and snarling, they chose to stay in rather than go out, and there was an appreciation for whatever I offered them by way of sustenance.

However, I soon realised that I had been hasty in this assumption, (having momentarily forgotten the dulling-down effects of a 24 hour flight), when their enthusiasm for life, living and partying resumed on day three – the day they re-discovered Vodka, Red Bull and another old friend, Jack Daniels, in our local bottle shop.

On day 3 I learned the following about teenage boys:

  • Maccas’s soft-tops are the cheapest alternative to real food when budgeting
  • Vodka mixed with RedBull is their most important food source
  • The need to mark your bedroom door with a ‘THIS IS NOT THE BATHROOM!’ sign – this is of particular importance during the night
  • Teenage boys will eat as many fried egg sandwiches as you can throw at them
  • Check your water meter before they stay – they shower all the time
  • Seeing the sights of a beautiful city is secondary to a) going out to get a hangover and b) recovering from it
  • Teenage boys can sleep fourteen hours in one session and they need to feed all day afterwards to make up for fourteen hours of not eating
  • They think about food all the time
  • Allowing drinking games in your house prior to a night out should be strongly discouraged
  • Their alcoholic tolerance is not as good as they think it is
  • Their night out only begins as you go to bed and ends as you get up; just in time for a cooked breakfast

They left today as the bags under my eyes were touching the floor and I had exhausted the organic egg supplies at my local Woolies.

Even Kurt looked sad.

Obviously, I haven’t been brave enough to enter their bedroom or bathroom yet.

Parenting Tips: Dogs versus Teenagers


If you had your choice again, what would you have?
If you had your choice again, what would you have?

The only ally I seem to have in the house these days is the dog.

I don’t want to sound like some pathetic male looking for an excuse, but she is the only one that understands me; or shows an ounce of appreciation for what I do for her.

There is a bit of tension in our house at the moment. There have been heated discussions about the long-term effects of the ADHDer’s teenage angst on the family.

Nerd Child wants to have him put down, the old man has reinstated his invisibility cloak and only the dog remains by my side, my best friend and loyal ally.

Fundamentally, because I keep her alive.

If I do leave this house, (as I’ve threatened the ADHDer on several recent occasions just in case he has some ridiculous notion about pipping me to the post), the dog will sadly die from starvation or neglect.

If the ADHDer were a dog, I’d have been able to return him to the dog home by now.  There should be a special home for delinquent teenagers who have been excessively annoying to their parents.

If only he were a dog, then I could condition him to do what I wanted and he would show gratitude for even the tiniest morsels of love and lick me lovingly, (instead of sneering at me with those eyes of pure hatred).

When I am reincarnated into that young rich bitch with inherited wealth and living in my waterfront mansion at Potts Point, I will choose to have a houseful of Spoodles to share my home, and there will be a sign on the door saying ‘No Kids’.

Here are a few reasons why dogs make better offspring than teenagers:

  • A dog’s love is unconditional. The relationship I have with our dog is uncomplicated (unless she poos when I walk her) unlike the one I have with my teenagers – there are no lies, hidden meanings or mood swings to worry about. I am the mistress and she is the dog, and she respects me for it.
  • My teenagers’ love, on the other hand, is dependent upon conditions: how much money I give them; how much I ask them to help out in the house; how strict I am about curfews; how much music practice I force them to do; whether I remember to buy Coco Pops.
  • The dog is always in my vicinity but never in my face. The teenagers are always in my vicinity and usually trashing it. They are always in my face when they want something and stay there until they get it.
  • The dog eats everything I put in front of her without complaint.  The dog doesn’t pretend to wretch when I cook something new or refuse to eat the meal because it wasn’t what they expected.
  • The dog sleeps when I sleep, plus an additional ten hours so I only have at least six hours of the day with her. The teenagers sleep when they want to, usually at odd times of the day and night and without consideration for anyone else’s sleep patterns.
  • The dog buries her poo, the teenagers leave it in the toilet for me to flush.
  • The dog stops barking when I ask her to. The teenagers do not respond to simple requests to turn down their noise (usually because they can’t hear me) making it therefore necessary to shout or nag.
  • The dog does not have selective hearing. She comes when I call her.
  • The dog does not drink my wine, nor does she get loud or silly.
  • The dog does not demand clean clothes with a few minutes notice and then tut at me for not mind-reading her plans.
  • If the dog pukes from over-indulgence, she cleans her own mess up.
  • The dog always looks at me with love. The teenagers haven’t looked at me with love since I bought each of them their first mobiles.
  • When I leave the dog in the house while I am out, she does not leave every cupboard door or drawer open or eat all of my special Muesli. She has a self-drying coat so I don’t have to worry about picking up her discarded towels.
  • When the dog goes out, she does not bring home three or four friends to stay the night without informing me.
  • I can prevent the dog from getting pregnant.
  • The dog’s grunts are a more intelligent form of communication than those of the teenagers.
  • The dog doesn’t borrow my clothes without asking and then lend them to her friends.
  • The dog doesn’t make me feel like a raided cash machine. She gives back.

In essence, I can control the dog and the dog respects those boundaries. The ADHDer thinks that those boundaries suck and retaliates against them daily, grinding us all into the ground.

I have offered Pet Rescue a vast sum of money to take the ADHDer and am patiently awaiting their response.

Teenage Sibling Love

English: Indian Naan bread and curry served in...
English: Indian Naan bread and curry served in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I haven’t decided whether my teenagers are simply not interested in food, or just MY food .

Nerd Child has been fussy about food since she was force-fed her first solid at the age of five months, where from deep within the recesses of some internal quality control system her bodily response to lumps was decisively negative. In fact no lump was to pass down her oesophagus for the first five years of her life.

Fortunately, her taste buds have evolved with time, (a little), although they are still distinctly immature and distrustful of my cooking. Irritatingly, now that she is a scientist in the making, she has also begun to apply her newly acquired research and dissection techniques to my culinary creations.

The description of my cuisine as ‘creations’ is obviously a hyperbole. I’ve documented the family’s preference for uninteresting, ‘bland’ food in several posts; this is a family that would dine exclusively chez Ronald Macdonald if I allowed them. When Masterchef airs in our house and the contestants whip up wonderful gourmet delicacies, the utterances range from ‘ewww’ and ‘gross’ to ‘how could anyone possibly eat that sh*t?’ from the philistines in my house.

The ADHDer struggles between several conflicting issues when it comes to food.  He is a growing boy in his teens, and at this developmental stage of his life should have that insatiable need to inhale food, but unfortunately his appetite is suppressed by his ADHD medication, so enticing him to eat anything ‘healthy’ during the twelve hour cycle of his meds is a daily challenge. There are also the added complications of neophobia and sensory over-excitability with new food, texture and smells, as well as the anxiety caused by mixing food groups on the plate.

These concerns reduce the number of meals that he will engage with enthusiastically. The simple question of ‘what’s for dinner?’ therefore evokes panic in my kitchen, especially because Nerd Child is not a fan of any of the three meals that the ADHDer has expressed a preference for, all of which comprise of mashed potato, peas, sweet corn and some sort of pre-packaged protein. Nerd Child detests mash and thinks that peas are the Devil’s food.

Funnily enough, junk food is not subjected to the same scrutiny as my cooking, and I am ashamed to admit that my son’s physical growth is being built on a foundation of Fruit Loops and hot chips.

This is how dinner fared last night.

I had decided to make a curry, (obviously by ‘make’, I am in fact describing the complicated cooking technique of opening a Patak’s sauce jar).The ADHDer is hyper-focusing on Naan bread at the moment so I figured that he might forget about the sly slab of protein I usually try to disguise on his plate, if I concealed it under a pile of bread. Forced into a tight corner because I only had chicken in the fridge, I chose to ignore the fact that Nerd Child detests Indian due to strength-of-flavour issues.

She is eighteen now, an adult, and has proven that she is more open to experimentation (in certain key areas of her social life), I justified, and as it was a mild Korma, (only one chilli on the label so not too spicy, no suspicious lumps and of an acceptable creamy texture. I was also using chicken breast so there was no bones, fat or sinew for them to wretch over), I thought it might be safe from her savage scrutiny.

Rookie mistake.

The preparation was not as straightforward as I had assumed it would be. I was obviously nervous at the prospect of trying to ‘get one over’ my daughter. Evidently, NO meal is simple enough for me not to fuck up.

Having grated most of my nails into the carrot, one of the Naan breads then nose-dived straight down into the internal machinations of the toaster and refused to pop back up. Forgetting that the new toaster had been cheap, (the previous one having died that week, fusing the garage door at the same time in its final throes, which in turn fused our garage door just as I was reversing out; meaning I was stuck until one of our ‘parents’ explained to us what and where the fuse box was), hence the smart stainless steel outer shell had become dangerously hot in the Naan-burning process, so when I lifted it up in frustration to try to eject the bread, scalding both palms in the process, I let rip of a long list of expletives that even the old man hadn’t heard before.

So I was already rattled when Nerd Child, without any consideration for the repercussions of her actions, began physically dissecting the chicken in full view of my other food critic, and suddenly shouted in disbelief, ‘MUM! THIS CHICKEN’S GOT FAT ON IT!’

I watched the ADHDer stop chewing mid-mouthful and Princess Spoodle begin licking her lips under the table.

I watched my son register the information and saw the fear set in.

FAT ON THE CHICKEN! GOD, NOOOOooooo! (How my children would survive living on the streets, I have no idea). I watched my son frantically push the chicken to one side of his plate and attempt to control the first wretch that was building in his stomach, whilst throwing me a disgusted, ‘how could you?’ look. I could see Nerd Child settle in for the battle ahead.

‘There can’t be any fat on the chicken, darling; it’s breast,’ I said soothingly, stroking the ADHDer’s hand gently to calm his building anxiety, whilst lobbing my best death stare at the witch opposite.

‘What’s that then?’ she smirked at us, triumphantly holding up what was obviously a very substantial piece of sinew in front of the ADHDer’s face. I watched him begin to turn white.

This was not about the chicken at all. Her behaviour was blatant revenge for the ADHDer waking her up that morning before 11am when she had a hangover, revenge for taking her earphones to school without asking and for devouring ALL her precious Turkish bread in one sitting.

This was sibling warfare.

‘In fact, I might be able to see some MOULD on it too,’ she carried on, viciously, as her brother gagged, ‘and I’m pretty sure this chicken was not washed properly….’

At which point the ADHDer pushed his chair back hurriedly and rushed to the bathroom to wash out his mouth, take his fourth shower of the day, and sate any residing hunger pangs with four ‘safe’ Up N’Gos from the emergency stash under his bed.

Nerd Child grinned at me victoriously. I sought solace in a bottle of wine.

Sibling love at its finest.

The Pain Of First Love

My boy may just be experiencing his ‘first love’, and if I’m honest, neither of us are really ready.

If I’d known that sending him to a new school would expose his innocence to the wiles of flirtatious teenage girls so obviously on a mission to twist the hearts of innocent young men, I might have reconsidered.

Of course I knew that it would happen one day but with his ADHD and its implications in terms of his maturity, I honestly believed that I still had a few more years of him being all ‘mine’.

You see, we didn’t really go through what Steve Biddulf said we would in ‘Raising Boys; he never did truly reach out towards the old man in search of a meaningful testosterone bond around the age of twelve and discard me, so I’ve become accustomed to him ‘involving’ me in every aspect of his life. And I rather like it.

He’s always been my boy; a Mummy’s boy.

But he is now in the process of de-Mumming me and I’m not quite ready to be replaced by some brazen fifteen year old with pert breasts; who probably doesn’t use the ‘no’ word as effectively as I do.

I know I shouldn’t really blame the school. For the first time in his school life, he seems genuinely happy. But with a ratio of girls to boys of 6:1, (once you exclude the guys who have made it quite clear that they prefer dancing to AFL), he never really stood a chance.

He assures me that he and this girl are just friends, yet he spends every waking moment writing and waiting for her texts, snap chats and Facebook messages.

He has even washed his hair twice this week, something I’ve been working towards for the past month. If he starts wearing deodorant, I may have to starve myself in protest……..or at least give up Oreos for a day.

He assures me that she’s out of his league, that he is boxing above his weight and doesn’t stand a chance, yet that hasn’t prevented him from falling for her charms hook, line and sinker. It hasn’t stopped him trying. Or hoping.

Even I get tense when she doesn’t text back IMMEDIATELY.

I worry about how he will handle a relationship. I worry about his impulsiveness, that he’ll say the wrong thing, or something highly inappropriate without realizing it. He’s still so amateur at reading social clues and finds the implications of texts so hard to decipher. I worry that it won’t work out with this girl and then he won’t want to go back to this new school like all the others.

I want to protect him from this ‘first love’ because the potential for hurt is so much greater for him.

But for the first time I can sense that he is not telling me everything, that he is excluding me. And it hurts me because I know that he may get hurt.

I have thought about a strategy for creating some distance between them. Maybe I could buy back his love by taking him to Maccas this weekend, maybe even allow him a Coke if I have to. But then I realized how immature that was. (Actually the old man pointed that out). And anyway, he may be too busy to come to Maccas with me.  If he’s with HER.

The old man warned me that this day would come, the day when I’d have to let go. But of course I chose not to listen. I’m simply not ready.

When he does let me in and describes their puerile nicknames for each other to me, I want to spit, not share in his happiness.

Even I recognize that that’s not normal. What happened to the idea of parental love being unconditional and all that gumpf the parenting books force-fed us with?

He’s mine. I created him, I’m the one who has dealt with his issues for all his fifteen years, I’m the one he has sought for reassurance in his moments of crisis, the one he has said ‘love you, Mum’ to, every night since he could speak; no matter how serious the tantrum that preceded it.

I get him. I understand how his ‘difference’ works. I know that he might get hurt and he isn’t ready. He doesn’t get it.

She doesn’t know him like I do. She doesn’t understand his sensitivity, his mood swings, his inability to read social clues and his compulsion for eating cereal all day.

I bet she’s never even considered the serious implications of mixing different textures of food on a plate.

The Long Way Down With ADHD

If I hear one more rendition of the theme music to Long Way Down, I’m going to gouge my eyeballs out with an ice-cream scoop as a form of pain relief.

What can I say? It is the latest hyperfocus of my ADHD son.

In my previous life, I used to enjoy a not- entirely- innocent,  (bordering perverted, if I’m honest) interest in Ewan McGregor’s antics in Africa. Suffice it to say, having been force fed the first series (and in particular the first episode), without respite, for the past year, that particular little middle-aged fantasy has been fully sated, and frankly, I never want to hear his dulcet Scottish tones again.

There are few social boundaries with ADHD, which can make sharing a house an intense experience. Rules become futile unless they can be absorbed and their consequences understood, so house rules are continually massaged in our home, and in their place there are degrees of flexibility that are further manipulated and reworked with far too much negotiation if I’m honest. We are weak parents.

The ADHD child invades everyone’s personal space, yet doesn’t share his own. Every member of a family has their foibles and ‘buttons’ regarding the foibles of others; my ‘button’ in relation to ADHD is the chaos, the tween’s is the lack of filter, the old man’s is the noise. That lack of dopamine can determine the energy of the house; the satisfaction he extracts from his obsessions often determines him.

Concentrating and organisational issues have been well documented, but what is less understood is the ADHD child’s ability to hyperfocus and the impact of that focus, good and bad.

Our son is currently hyperfocusing on Long Way Down.

‘Excess’ is a word I associate with my son. His excesses are done to excess, often to the point of obsession. He can eat to excess, he drinks juice to excesss, and talks to excess; often in different voices. He watches Long Way Down excessively.

There’s a whole load of scientific mumbo-jumbo as to why these kids hyperfocus on areas of interest and demonstrate high distractability around ‘boring’ stuff, such as co-morbidity and the side effects of medication. It’s a fact that with ADHD you often get  the ‘premium’ package, a sort of three for one.

My son has a very kinesthetic approach to his obsessions; he ‘lives’ through them. Sometimes he sleeps with his guitars, for example.

Where once he simply played them, now he disassembles them, physically analysing every detail of their structure, systematically stripping them back to remove their innards; to see how they work. I often wonder how my son ‘works’.

I now wake in the middle of the night humming the theme tune to Long Way Down.

The tween and I can recite the first episode word for word, from the moment Ewan breaks his leg and has to make coffee for himself on crutches – a tricky task when your day job is as a supes world famous, mega-rich actor and you probably haven’t had to make your own coffee for a very long time. To loveable rogue, gap-toothed Charlie, being a bit ‘silly’ (like, all the time), who mucks up the African Orientated Hostile Environment Training Course (!) just prior to their London departure. ‘Ohhhh, Charrrrrlieeee, (in heavy, sensual Scottish accent), you stupid f*cking bastard,’ is a recurring theme.

I suspect that Charlie is ADHD. Charlie is Laurel to Ewan’s Hardy; the perfect double act.

I keep trying to explain to my son that unless he is in training to perfect a Scottish accent or motorbike wheelies, his groundhog viewing habits are really not educational. And furthermore, the open-plan design of our fibro beach-house is not conducive to revving motorbikes and guitar distortion; noisy, guttural sounds that resonate sharply around stark white walls and echoing timber floors.

Our neighbours no longer discuss what the other neighbours are doing, with us.

And the special 4D effect pushbike which is  permanently parked in the middle of my sitting room conflicts horribly with my driftwood and sisal beach decor, if I’m honest. He rides it with Ewan and Charlie across Africa.

And did I mention that he sometimes wears snorkeling goggles while eating dinner, or that I fear that his passion for guitars has usurped his love for me, or the potential to love a girl in his future? Or that it’s physically quite difficult to watch television through the frame of a bicycle, or discuss unfinished school assignments while your son sips custard through a straw?

ADHD is a real condition.

I see flashes of madness and moments of brilliance in my boy. The mind works in mysterious ways and like my son’s guitars, we are all wired differently.

Photo eos20d 337 courtesy +sko11ie of

Learn About ADHD: Focus on Hyperfocus