From the minute we entered the restaurant with my 6-year-old son, I knew we were in for a tough time. The room was packed and noisy. It wasn’t kid-friendly, and my son has ADHD.
We sat down at a table, and within minutes, he was fidgeting in his seat. He grabbed the salt and pepper shakers and started playing with them, pretending they were race cars. I kept taking them away, explaining quietly but firmly that they weren’t toys and he needed to leave them alone.
But the second I turned away to look at the menu, I heard a sharp voice from another table. It was another mom, scolding my son for “driving” the pepper shaker into her daughter’s arm. I instantly felt ashamed, and under attack. I tensed up, turned back to my son, and barked, “What are you doing? I told you to put those away!”
As the mom and a few other patrons glared at me, my shame was joined by a familiar feeling of guilt and fear. I’d had this experience before, and I would go on to have it many times again. And every time it happened, it hurt.
Eventually, I came to realize something that made it a little easier to handle: Most people who judge do it because they just don’t know.
So here’s what I’d like them to understand about me, my son and ADHD:
1. It’s not his fault he behaves this way..
My son’s brain works differently than other kids—it’s a neurological issue. He’s not doing these things on purpose. Believe me, if he could better control his impulsivity, hyperactivity, lack of focus and overblown emotions, he would. It’s no fun to struggle with these things.