Dear people who were visiting the swamp area at the New Orleans Zoo Sunday afternoon,
I’m the woman in the black dress you saw trying to yank a screaming, wailing, flailing girl into the ladies room. I know you all saw me. I saw the looks on your faces: astonishment, horror, unease (Is this woman trying to kidnap or otherwise harm this child?), revulsion. I know I looked a sight. I was hot, sweaty, disheveled, angry, scared, and quite frankly not sure what in the hell to do. My daughter, who is normally one of the most beautiful children I know and has a brain to match it, was making faces straight out of the Exorcist, yelling “help, help,” and acting as if someone were trying to burn all of her precious stuffed animals in a furnace.
Here’s what happened – what led up to the spectacle you had the misfortune of witnessing. We were playing on Monkey Hill. All was right with the world, other than the fact that it was about 600 degrees outside. All of the sudden, my daughter said she had to pee NOW. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, no? I left my son with my husband and we set off to find the closest bathroom, which wasn’t all that close. I was aware that time was of the essence. When we arrived at the appropriate building (in the swamp exhibit), my daughter wanted to go to the bathroom inside the nice building with the cafe and gift shop. The only problem was that wasn’t where the doors to the bathroom were. They were on the exterior of the building. For whatever reason, that flipped the switch.
I suppose I should interject here that periodically my kid has a complete phobia of insects. Or she loves them and finds them fascinating. There’s no in-between. Anyway, we’re currently in the phobia phase of the cycle. It’s kind of stupid when you’re doing lots of things outside. You know, where the bugs live. Anyway, somewhere, somehow, she became convinced that bugs could travel the water pipes and come pouring out of the faucet. Ergo, bathrooms – particularly those with doors opening to the outside – are obviously going to be infested.
She stopped walking. I told her it was fine, that there would be no bugs, that she needed to go. She told me she didn’t go. I told her she was being ridiculous and that we were going to the bathroom now. I tried logic to no avail. That’s when the noise and chaos ensued.
I finally just managed to yank her screaming to the door. When it opened and she saw clean white tile and felt the AC, she calmed immediately. Until she got to the commode, that is, but hopefully y’all missed all that. The whole thing was ugly. So ugly. And loud. I sometimes forget that everything with my daughter is so much more, including her volume. The whole thing scared the hell out of me. She’s not some 3 or 4 year old I can just pick up and carry away. She’s a large, powerful kid. And the whole thing just caught me so off guard. I couldn’t tell you the last time she had some kind of godawful public outburst to that degree.
I probably handled it badly. I’m sure out there somewhere there’s some supernanny or child whisperer that could have calmed her immediately with soothing words and had her gliding to the bathroom door. That wasn’t me, or not at that moment. I really do try, though. I read the books. I’ve joined the Facebook pages and support groups. I know what one is supposed to do. Only that doesn’t always work.
Before the storm
This ADHD thing. I talk about it a lot. I have to or I’ll explode. It sounds so stupid and simple. I almost feel guilty about yammering about it so much. It could be worse. I know that. But y’all, it’s hard. And it’s constant. And it wears you down, especially now when a new school is starting and everyone is just trying to settle in and find their way. I’m sitting here in knots because I need to have 2 different 504 meetings at 2 different schools and I asked for both of these meetings months ago and I work and how do you schedule all this stuff?
Both of my kids have this diagnosis, as well as my husband. You have to believe me when I say it’s very lonely much of the time. My primary
obsession focus is my kids. It just kind of has to be. And because of my husband’s own issues, he just can’t always help. Hell, sometimes he adds to the problems if I’m honest. It’s overwhelming. The meds, the appointments, having to make sure everything is laid out to make things as simple as possible (because something has to be simple, right?)
And please please don’t get me wrong. I love all of these people with all my heart. And the ADHD can sometimes be fascinating and fun. They can create things in ways I never could. The only thing I can create is dinner. My daughter’s art is amazing. My husband builds stuff like our foam machine which we take to schools and parties to make kids happy. My son is a force, with his machines and other gimcrackery that he’s always constructing, all the while freestyling the Predator Rap.
But there are times, like now, when I feel like I’m barely holding it together. I bought myself a silly cheap bracelet on Amazon. It’s to remind me that I am enough. I have to be.
So I’m sorry about what you saw. It was not our finest moment. And thanks for not contacting security to report me for attempted kidnapping. That would have been pretty awkward. And if you know someone like me – a parent of a kid who’s different – be patient, be kind, and try not to judge. This shit is harder than it looks sometimes.