The following story is a brief excerpt from my book “Teddy Hit Me: Scattered Stories of an ADHD Life” (Currently in progress). I hope you enjoy my pain…
You know how sometimes you might be watching TV while eating chips with dip and absent-mindedly dip the remote into the dip and try to change the channel with your chip? No? I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about. My son just about brushed his teeth with Polysporin the other night because his mind was wandering somewhere else and reverted to its simple rule: squishy stuff in tubes go on the toothbrush.
Anyway, when I was in grade 2, which seems to have been a fairly disastrous year, this tendency came back to bite me in a major way. There was this little girl, Gina, who sat in front of me, who, in retrospect, was seriously troubled. I remember being horrified one time as she turned around and said, “Hey Teddy, look at this.” and proudly displayed the thumbtack she had stabbed into her wrist.
Anyway, one day after school, Gina was being scolded by the teacher, Mrs. Anderson, that picture of warmth who had spanked me loudly in front of my class. I don’t remember what Gina had allegedly done but I’m sure that Mrs. Anderson was handling it with softness and compassion. All the compassion of a starving jackal. Outside the classroom, in the hallway, we hung our coats and backpacks and placed our outdoor shoes on a little shelf. It was the end of the day, and along with packing my bag and putting my coat back on, I need to change from my indoor shoes to my outdoor shoes. I was distracted, eavesdropping as Mrs. Anderson ripped into Gina. While I was occupied with my nosiness, my brain went into autopilot, pulling my shoes off and placing them on the shelf. This is where autopilot became a problem and threatened to derail my already disastrous year.
When else might you take off your shoes, you may wonder? How about when getting changed for gym? Or having a bath? Or getting ready for bed. Any number of these situations involve taking off your shoes. Unfortunately, they also involve taking off your pants. Which is what I did. After placing my indoor shoes on the shelf, instead of putting on my outdoor shoes, I undid the button on my jeans, grabbed each side of my waistband and pulled them down to my ankles, revealing my tighty-whities to Mrs. Anderson and Gina, known for her discretion.
I awoke from my eavesdropping trance as my pants hit my ankles and looked up in shock as they looked down, paused with their mouths hanging open. Quickly I yanked up my pants, abandoning all hope of appearing nonchalant. Mrs. Anderson, pillar of empathy, made an embarrassing comment that I can’t remember, and released Gina from her grasp. With her newfound freedom, Gina ran gleefully from our scene, straight out the double doors to the playground yelling, “Teddy pulled his pants down!”. Thankfully, it was after school and most of the kids had gone home, otherwise the story would have taken on much more life and followed me around for a while.
It’s moments like these that allow me to empathize with the kids I work with, to often act as their voice in explaining to the adults around them why they do what they do. In grade 2, I considered my tendency to create this situations a curse. Now, I consider them a blessing.