A free-spirited friend of mine posted today that she scattered birdseed in her front yard. She’d heard it’s an old Scandinavian custom to bring good fortune in the new year.
My online feeds are full today of recipes for black-eyed peas, but I keep scrolling. I’ve tried the mealy things once or twice and never liked them. That’s one more no-thank-you bite than my kids have to take.
If I were a bigger believer in luck, I might try to force down a couple of medicinal bites — spiritual insurance against bad luck in the new year, perhaps? But I don’t believe in luck at all. Maybe because I lived in Las Vegas too long.
I believe in chance and in the law of averages. I believe a little bit in fate, but not pre-destination. I believe in choices and responsibility. And that sometimes things don’t go your way even when you do everything right.
This is a hard concept for adults. Even more so for my 10-year-old son. Lately he feels he has no luck at all. Playing games with him has always been difficult, because he cannot stand to lose. He gets down on himself. Blames his luck.
Last night, it was bowling. His little sister was ahead in points by the fifth frame, and he just shut down. Pouted and grumped and gave up. Today it was a family round of Hullabaloo, which is a game for kids half his age. The prize? Doing a funky dance. When a few short rounds went by and he hadn’t yet won the right to make a fool of himself, the pout returned.
I don’t react well when it happens. It frustrates me that he seems to feel entitled to a win. I don’t get to win all the time — why should you? At least I’m smart enough not to say this out loud. Instead, I try to stay calm and remind him to be a good sport. I had hoped by now he would have learned to lose graciously. I’m still waiting.
And he’s my first, so my expectations are probably way out of whack. Countless times I have asked myself, as his mother, “What’s normal?” We learned a long time ago that normal doesn’t enter into the picture for us most of the time — if normal means “like everyone else.”
My son has ADHD. He’s old enough now that he realizes this makes him different. And that he doesn’t like it. ADHD is both his boogeyman and his excuse. When you’re 10, you want to be normal. You think everyone else is, except you. When you’ve been diagnosed, prescribed, and treated for something that makes you different, there’s no denying you are not normal.
We talk about gifts. We talk about how everyone has a different toolbox. We talk about why it’s good we’re not all the same.
We talk a lot.
But I can’t talk him into feeling better about himself — any more than I’ve ever been able to do this for myself.
Hopefully his dad and I can show him over time that there are plenty others like him who have overcome the obstacles of ADHD and even discovered its good qualities. Like my friend Missy, who uses her endless energy to lead fitness classes, customize and sell cute little hats, raise four kids — and laugh about her ADHD. I wish I had a quarter of what keeps her on the go.
My son’s not in a place to grasp this just now, because he feels having ADHD was just his bad luck. I’ll admit that sometimes I do too. Or I wonder what would have happened if I’d eaten my black-eyed peas, scattered more birdseed in the yard, carried a rabbit’s foot, rubbed the Buddha’s belly, and knocked on more wood.
I wouldn’t trade the son God gave me for anyone. I can’t wait to see who he’ll be when he’s 20, 35, 60. No one else will be like him. And for that, I count myself lucky.