(id est, Latin, “that is”)
What People Will Say When They Can’t Say They Think Your Kid is ADHD:
active (with emphasis)
physical (nice way of saying “aggressive”)
hyperactive (almost exclusively the province of medical professionals who may use without causing offense. Have also tried it myself—and on professionals—who see through my deliberate evasiveness and unblinkingly revert to clinical “ADHD.”)
busy, busy, busy! (favored by gracious widow neighbors)
mean (sibling favorite)
wild (these mothers have girls)
impossible (recommended close family only)
intense (again, with emphasis)
trainwreck (admittedly we—McD’s parents—are the only ones who’ve used this one. At least, within earshot…)
Do these adjectives apply to all children? Uh-huh.
Do they apply differently to yours? Uh-huh.
How to handle: smile (preferably stoically) and reply to effect of child’s big personality, vitality, vigor, above-mentioned spiritedness, or general joie de vivre. I.e., reframe positively. (If you feel like you’re playing dumb, then you’re doing it right!) Note: Timing is critical; tactic most convincing if child is not simultaneously kicking you in shins or screaming you’re a jerk because he can’t get his jacket zipped. Very, very difficult to pull stoic smile off in this case and should only be attempted by veterans.
Positive reframing of fact that these relatively innocuous descriptors cause your heart to sink a little bit each time:
- Experience with keywords expedites completion of therapist’s Child Behavior Checklist.
- Revelation that adjectives are, in fact, linked and add up to identifiable pattern eases anxiety (somewhat ironically?) that BEHAVIOR is monstrous Hydra that no one else can imagine and that all is hopeless.
It’s not hopeless. It’s just (as favorite therapist would say) ADHD.