Very little is fair from McDiesel’s perspective.
It’s not fair that he gets the crab plate instead of the pirate plate (no matter which one he’s specifically requested or how many times I’ve moved food from one to the other). It’s not fair that there’s not more syrup in the bottle (although there’s more than enough for the waffle he won’t eat anyway). It’s not fair that it’s not his turn to choose which DVRed show to watch (for the third time in a row). It’s not fair that I won’t let him throw the stapler at his brother (again).
“It’s not fair” is an infuriating ADHD refrain with—often—no basis in reality or reason or fairness whatsoever.
And I get it. On a daily basis I am in danger of losing my mind over what all is not fair. McD doesn’t know the half of it.
I took my prenatal vitamins. I gave up caffeine and feta and tuna. I never took a maternity leave. I never even put my kids in daycare. I have a freakin Ph.D. I volunteer to be Room Mother. I make sure school library books are in backpacks on library day. I don’t let my kids drink soda or watch too much t.v. or call grownups by their first names. I recycle. I clip Box Tops.
I did the right thing. I’ve always done the right thing. I was a good kid, a good student, and much of my everyday life is spent trying to be a good mother. So I would love to explain to McD that I certainly do not deserve this. IT’S NOT FAIR.
(Therapist will break in to ask who told me life was fair? Did I really think that my over-achieving perfectionism and hard work could guarantee perfect kids? Can I really believe that I have that much control?
Of course I believe that. I tell her that everyone knows this is true. Who told her it wasn’t?? (She’s going to fire me for sure.) )
(And Husband [Number One] will bemoan my entitlement complex.)
But I do feel entitled. Because I was told—just as we tell and tell and tell McDiesel—that if you make good choices and do the right thing, then there is a reward. Get into your clothes and into the carpool SUV (in under 10-15 nerve-racking minutes) and into bed, earn stickers all week, and–voila–there’s the Treasure Box on Friday.
That makes sense to him and it makes sense to me. You play by the rules and you win. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. I am “entitled” to the Treasure Box. I’ve earned it. That is fair.
So how in the world did this happen to me? How is it that I’m the one friends and family feel sorry for? How is it that it’s my life that’s so tough and pitiful? How is it that it’s my kid who has something wrong (or at the very least, “wrong”) with him? How is it that it’s my days that are so, as Beloved Therapist says, “impaired”? How is it that my money goes to alternative therapies insurance won’t cover and not to the new soapstone countertops of my dreams? What did I ever do to deserve THIS??
How did I turn into this self-pitying, resentful, bitter, angry person?
And—this is true, I swear—then I look out the kitchen window and see the neighbor’s adorable eleven-year-old daughter organizing pine needles on the ground next to our driveway as she does—painstakingly and alone—many afternoons. And I look at McDiesel, cracking himself and his big brother up with potty talk—graphic and inappropriate and accompanied by sound effects, as usual—at the table.
And I think: Fine, fine. I’ll take it—I’ll take it! What luck.