I’ve changed. I used to be hypersensitive about how well-behaved and quiet and “normal” other kids McD’s age were. They’d sit and listen to a book in the waiting room; they’d hang onto the cart in the store; they’d get from the school door to the car—or from one end of a sentence to the other—without throwing something. I stared. Ruminated. If only, if only.
But now I have become something of an appraiser of the atypical. A connoisseur. Immersed in the lingo, in the appointments, in the BEHAVIOR and the all-natural high-protein groceries, how could I not?
This new hypersensitivity is something of a superpower. It’s like a sixth sense. Give me a bunch of boys and I will give you all sorts of atypical behavior their parents should really have checked out. I scan the pool, the Cub Scout hut, the school classroom with an appraiser’s eye. The little blonde’s kind of loud. That kid in the hunting jacket looks like he could be dangerous. This one’s gotten up three times to throw something away. Here’s one who won’t stop shoving his neighbor. Ah! I’m not sure what just happened there is neurotypical behavior!
I cannot stop watching, considering, adding up. All behavior is symptomatic; all little boys are suspect.
Could this be a defense mechanism kicking in? A force field against the glaring exposure I feel when I am—anywhere—with McDiesel? Could it be quid pro quo? If other parents see McDiesel’s ADHD then I can see their kid’s? (Go ahead and judge, sister, but guess what? I’m judging, too.) Could it be a comfort? (I’m not the only one; I’m not the only one.) Could it be a hedge against my anxiety? A way to reassure myself that despite the trials and tribulations of McD I still have one up on other mothers of little boys? Could it just be reality? (Ask anyone in my demographic and they’ll tell you everyone we know with a boy has some neuro glitch.)
Realized recently that I’ve begun to take an odd and unsettling pleasure in this superpower. So to that mother pitying me at the Cubs meeting as I humiliate myself (yet again!) by (unsuccessfully) chasing McD around his big brother’s chair? Guess what? Your seven-year-old can’t sit still atop a stack of four plastic chairs the pack leader told him not to sit on in the first place. Don’t feel bad for me; I’m thinking you’ve got your own fish to fry.
But then I think: Good Lord—what if she’s thinking the same thing back at me?