4 Things My ADHD Son Wants Grown-Ups to Know

I was talking with my 12 year old son the other day about a girl he likes in school.

“She’s the most popular girl but some people say really mean things about her.”

“What do they say that’s mean?” I asked

“They call her fat and say she’s ugly without any makeup.”

God, kids can be mean. I asked him how he felt when he heard people saying things like that. “It makes me feel bad for her, because I know how I feel when people say mean things about me.”

My mom radar went off. My son is that kid who is always happy; nothing seems to get him down. He did not seem happy right now. What did he think people said?

“What do you think people say?” I asked expecting him to shrug, “I don’t know.” I got this instead:

I hear them, everything they probably think I can’t hear. Like the sigh when I tell them I forgot my homework again. I hear them mutter things under their breath when I am fidgeting in class. I hear frustration in their voices. I’d like them to understand I am not trying to make them mad.

I see things too. Like how you smile less with me than with other kids. I see how Daddy’s forehead gets all creased when he is yelling at me. I see people roll their eyes when I show them a new toy and how they sound all mad when they ask me to stop singing.

I want people to know, I feel like they don’t like how I am. I want Daddy to know, I’m not stupid and it hurts my feelings when he says, “Are you dumb?” I want you to know I don’t like it when you yell. I hate when I ask someone a question and they say, “It’s none of your business. Stop interrupting.” I’m just curious.

I just want it to stop. The yelling, comparing me to other kids that are “normal.” How people tense up sometimes when I just walk into the room. I want people to say I’m nice and funny and good at drawing. And not follow it with, “If only he could focus like that in other areas.” I just want to feel like it’s ok to be me.

Holy sh*t! That was not what I expected and it took every ounce of strength I had to not crumble under the weight of my shame. Maybe my happy kid was a little less happy than I’d thought. And I’d been so frustrated with him for not being “normal,” I’d missed it.

I took a deep breath and hugged him. My heart hurt. “That was so beautifully said. I’ll make you a promise right now to work to make things different for you. I believe in you, I see your goodness and I don’t want you to hurt.” And I meant this with all of my being.

He hugged me back and looked shy now. Like a typical 12 year old boy.

So I am sticking to my promise. I want to help people understand ADHD and the struggles these wonderful humans go through just make a place to fit in this world. This is my start. They’re square pegs in a round-hole world. Let’s find ways to make more square holes for them to fit.


  1. As an adult with ADHD going through a really nasty divorce, I feel your sons pain. My ADHD symptoms are extremely severe and made living with me difficult. What made it even more difficult was the constant disapproval, the looks, the stares, the sideways conversations with her mom, the sighs, hostility, anger and verbal abuse heaped on my when I felt bad enough because I was already failing myself.
    We see and hear and more importantly FEEL all of those things way more intensely and deeply than a normal person and those kinds of things hurt 10 times as much.
    It’s painful, it’s hard and it makes us an emotionally charged and wrecked individual.
    My only plea is to stop treating us like “good discipline” or a “beating” is all we need. That’s like telling someone with asthma all they need is a punch in the chest.

  2. My Granddaughter can soooo… relate. She is gifted (another stigma) and because she is gifted; she is also different from other kids… and they do not like it! They don’t like when she blurts out the answer, when she gets called on first, when she gets praised, and again they just laughed at her answer and again…it’s still right, when she doesn’t have to “pay attention” like the other kids…because at this point; we’ve already had a pow wow with her teachers. They don’t understand why she isn’t getting into trouble like they would’ve if they had been doodling. She has to stay busy to stay tuned into what they are doing. It’s not fun to be different.

    My Granddaughter spent her first three years at a gifted school, where a large number of their students had ADHD by the way. They were bright and the regular schools could not harness their attention and intelligence — Well, nobody needs to be harnessed. ADHD needs to be treated as it is: a blessing. The child needs to be appreciated as a whole child; not something that needs to be cured. Although she is not ADHD, she can totally understand, as her best friend does have ADHD. Like a good school should: They were allowed to run around the school at any time as it was needed; to help them to focus in class. They were not a quiet class and interuptions were welcomed. It was kind of a lesson for life. They also had the best psychologists: 7 dogs, that walked freely from class to class. She had to start public school in the 4th grade and had to start trying to fit into those very tightly formed, round holes. It has been the hardest task for this gifted girl.

    The fact is; that all children are gifted (and they are our gifts) at something and when we find that gift; we have found our own success (a gifted parent/aka: talent scout). 🙂

    My Granddaughter is almost 13 now and one thing that she has taught me is that: When she acts like she hates me being too silly, it is when she is doubting herself (projecting toward others) but, that’s when she needs to hear it the most:… “I love you”, “I’m impressed”, “I’m so lucky to have you in my life”, “you are so smart…special…& beautiful”, “You make me so happy” “you warm my heart” and “you are one amazing girl”.

    When you have a girl though, it’s very important to use such adjectives like “amazing” and “girl” (or other word emplying the child); giving them strength in this (still) Gender Stigma/Dominated society. Girls are still expected to have perfect bodies and to be able to do everything without expecting credit for it; as, “a girl MUST know her limitations”. I’ve also learned from my boys, that society also has a very high expectation from them as well. They are pressured from every angle, including the media (as well) to fit a certain gender mold: To be tough, powerful, physically large and aggressive. Breaking the mold in today’s changing world has repercussions when they have to go to school with guys that were raised with a strong masculine father as their role model. Kids have it hard in schools today.

    My ex-husband used to joke with the boys about being sissies when they “showed their feminine side” but the fact is; there should not be any differentiation in emotions. Why have a “feminine side”. Why separate ourselves from our God given emotions (yet another gift). Kids should just be expected to be kids, to learn, to love, to be loved and to have fun. Why do we have to label emotions, actions and acknowledgments as a weakness anyway? Your son’s girl friend should be allowed to be herself without having to meet anyone else’s standards but her own. The fact is, that other kids pick on people, when they; themselves feel lacking. But, it is society that has never grown up beyond their own insecurities and expectations that have led this generation by a bad example.

    I am truly impressed with your son’s insight; acknowledging his ability to see through society’s stigma. The very reason why he doesn’t understand how others can’t see things as clearly as he does. Maybe being normal is not exactly what we need to be; if it blinds us. If he likes this girl, regardless of what others think then; you know that he has a great understaning of himself to have seen the person that she truly is … behind the picture that others have painted on her shell…her greatest beauty…the beauty beneath. Congratulations for having one amazing son. 🙂

    I am inspired.

    • tipsytiaras@outlook.com

      For some reason I am just now seeing your comment, but wanted to thank you (late) for taking the time to read and reply! I love every single thing you said and kept saying, “Yes,” as I was reading your comment. So much YES!

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