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

Midlife Mayhem – Can’t You Just Tell Everyone I’m Dead

Words of desperation from a despairing man, on the brink of a cosy Sunday lunch with close friends. ‘A Dead Man Walking’ sprung to mind as I laughed nervously at him, but the implications were more serious – he is an introvert in crisis. Telling everyone he was dead, however, was never an option. But should something happen to me, I do worry that no one will know the truth about the Howard Hughes-esque recluse, who lives in the house, at the end of our street.

It’s not a question of him not liking people, or that he is fashionably eccentric, just cripplingly shy. So even though Sunday’s guest list included some of his dearest friends, the thought of being dropped into potentially unknown territory, because there may have been infiltrators (i.e.people he didn’t know), filled him with social anxiety.

His preparation involved relentlessly firing the names on the guest list at me, a ‘clearance’ system of sorts, a practise usually the domain of law enforcement agencies. At work he has no choice, but on home ground he exercises his free will to anonymity, within the frustrating constraints (for him) of being married to a serial social organiser.

So when he uttered those seemingly glib words to ‘tell everyone I’m dead’, I knew that the avoidance disorder was taking control. You see, he had been thwarted in a misguided escape plan just before we left, when he thought I was offering him a ‘get out of jail free’ card by feeling unwell, (when in fact, cancelling became an option because my inflamed throat was threatening to compromise my drinking prowess). I watched the build-up of pressure dissipate from his face with that tiny nugget of hope, and I felt something akin to pity for him. Then it dawned on me that he had assumed that he could stay with me. I had to burst his bubble – the bubble about no longer being a child!

Apparently, the thought of a boozy lunch with my mates can render him immobile with fear if the stars aren’t aligned, and only a thorough risk assessment can manage his anxiety. I managed to ignore his pathetic last-ditched suggestion of ‘cuddling on the sofa  with a romantic DVD’ and began loading the car, as the last flick we’d watched together was ‘Four Weddings’, back in the nineties. As soul mates, I am as aware of his misanthropist tactics as he is of my vulnerabilities. I am so used to his spin, that surrendering to his bargaining pleas would be the equivalent of allowing the dog to eat chocolate; I have to be cruel to be kind, before his anxiety becomes toxic.

Howard Hughes, former aviator, engineer, indus...
Howard Hughes, former aviator, engineer, industrialist, film producer and director (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How can a successful, professional man be so constrained by shyness? And how do I cope with these early onset hermit symptoms, which threaten to destroy the social bonds I have so carefully cultivated, in spite of his resistance? Our social life has developed into a game of ‘one step forward, two steps back’ with rules, terms and conditions and maddening negotiations. Social arrangements are permitted only once a weekend, on a strictly rotating basis and only with people who ‘understand’ him. New friends need the persistence of a mosquito.

They say that opposites attract, but how can I organise the party if no  guests are permitted? I dream of the community of a retirement village, while he dreams of acreage, high fencing and separate bedrooms.

My analogy of friendships, like cars that need servicing, falls on deaf ears, while every week he conspires against me, diminishing face-to-face social time with all but our direct line. And as the diary fills, so too does his trepidation, and he says it’s time to move suburb again.

Hermit Street – EC1 Photo courtesy of (EZTD)