I don't know about you and your children, but every now and then I tend to forget just how behind my son is in terms of his emotional development. My brain knows that kids with ADHD tend to be 2-3 years behind their peers in this area, but I guess I've just become used to his behaviour. And with nothing else to compare it to, Bear seems "normal" to me. His normal. My normal. But sometimes I am reminded that what we consider normal, well...isn't. You wouldn't think this would be a surprise after almost seven years, yet somehow, it still comes as a shock.
Take this morning, for example. Bear has two friends who live right across the street from us: a 6 1/2-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. These kids are very used to Bear and his behaviour, and they very rarely so much as bat an eye when he starts to get upset. The fact that they have a 3-year-old brother might help, because they're still used to temper tantrums.
This morning, as often happens on Sunday mornings, Bear and his two friends were playing downstairs. Stitch is sick and was asleep, so I had warned the kids that too much noise would find them outside. After the fifth warning (they really weren't being too loud, but I figured the more warnings, the better), I decided it was time for the two kids to go home for lunch. In all fairness, they had been here for about two hours and it really was lunchtime, so I didn't think this was going to be a big deal.
Guess what...I was wrong.
Bear promptly dropped to the floor and began to wail, tears streaming down his face. You know...like a 3-year-old. What followed was a full-blown my-heart-is-broken you've-ruined-my-life how-will-I-go-on tantrum. Because I sent his friends home for lunch. Not for the day. Just for lunch. With the understanding that they would be back as soon as they finished eating. Which they were.
And as I watched Bear's friends, one only a month younger than he is, happily trot off home without so much as a "just five-more-minutes???" it struck me that he's falling further and further behind his friends in terms of his social development.
So far it doesn't seem to be interfering with his peer relationships, as evidenced by the seven kids happily playing street hockey in front of our house (a second set of Bear's friends just came over from down the street), but it's just a matter of time.
Soon they're going to start to notice, and what then? Will he become "that" kid, the one no one wants to play with because he's "weird"?
This could get a whole lot harder before it gets better.