Reading while Rome burnt

‘ADD’ said the learned psychologist shaking his head.

Skimming my face for signs of recognition.

‘But you must accept the genetic endowment you’ve given this child!’

HOW DARE YOU!

He’d only known me for five minutes whilst he psychoanalysed my child. As I hurriedly rattled off my daughter’s behaviours, and impatiently finished his sentences for him.

What had Dark Princess inherited from her mother?

Attention Deficit Disorder. Without the H bit.

Then he did his whole pharmaceutical company sponsored bit about the joys of Ritalin.

I just said NO. (Actually I said a lot more under my breath, most of which is unrepeatable, and potentially libelous.)

This was the second child I’d had at the psychologist. The first time I’d shuffled down clinic corridors holding Son’s pudgy little hand (aged three) the white coat had told me that he had Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

And so did I!  I am the chattiest people-person you are likely to meet. I don’t think I have a problem with Theory of Mind issues.

Of course it was complete bollocks (on both accounts and that’s another blog post) but here I was again at the shrink with the girl child. At that stage everyone in our family had been to the mind-doctor, even the dog!

I didn’t put Dark Princess on Ritalin, I grabbed the sheets of instructions on ‘Heavy Duty Parenting’ and disappeared off into anonymity. Over the years this issue has arisen from time to time…

By the time she was three Dark Princess had sucked the muffler of my car, overdosed on Prozac, had a ride in an ambulance to replace part of her split forehead, eaten various trees in the back yard, chewed through her clothes, and snacked on a couple of baubles off the Christmas tree.

Of my three children, she is the most likely to run in front of a moving vehicle. Or burn the house down. Like yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, the sand man came and sprinked sleepy dust into my eyes and heavy-lidded I popped a roast in the oven and turned into bed. I didn’t turn into a bed, I turned into bed becoming one with the duvet and the feather pillows and the quiet…

I woke about an hour and sixty five minutes later (not two hours! That would be lazy of me.) I woke to the smell of something burning. A heavy incense infused scent hanging in the still air. That will be the Star Anise!

That

Will

Be

The

Dinner!!!!!

Racing downstairs I screamed into the kitchen and retrieved from the oven £9 worth of cremated beef. The kitchen was heavy with smoke. A pall of smoke hung over the lounge, where sitting happily ensconced in a book sat Dark Princess.

Reading.

Oblivious to anything outside of her book. Not paying attention to anything else, like my screaming, or the oven on fire. Would she have noticed if the house had burnt down?

I did the hippity-hoppity tantrum of the furious-but-incredulous-mother-of-selfish-teenagers! I screamed and ranted and turned shades of fetching purple. She looked up from her book and said in protest.

‘I didn’t know’.

Yeah. That’ll be the Attention Deficit Disorder thing. Or maybe the teenage thing? Or maybe she just really likes reading.

I’m not heading away overnight with my Englishman tonight. I can’t leave her and her little sister in the care of their big brother. She may not notice if the house burnt down around her. She may not get fed.

But I supppose I should be encouraged that at least she will be well-read.

Image Flickr by tanakawho


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'Reading while Rome burnt' has 35 comments

  1. March 11, 2010 @ 10:49 am MrsW

    I think my two must both be ADD too then, which is hilarious since my son was branded with an ADHD diagnosis by a bitter useless primary teacher when he was 6 (I told HER where to shove it).

    Is there a clinical name for vehemently denying any responsibility for anything whatsoever even if there’s recorded evidence that you were told and shown what to do? Or is that just teenagers in general? At least “vehemently” denying could be construed as caring….. or am I clutching at straws?

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 10:53 am vegemitevix

      I think I clutch at the same straws Mrs W! Though it is a problemo because who can I get to look after said teens whilst I nick off to have a break with the husband? I had previously thought they’d be ok (oldest is almost 16)….but now…

      Reply

  2. March 11, 2010 @ 10:49 am MrsW

    I think my two must both be ADD too then, which is hilarious since my son was branded with an ADHD diagnosis by a bitter useless primary teacher when he was 6 (I told HER where to shove it).

    Is there a clinical name for vehemently denying any responsibility for anything whatsoever even if there's recorded evidence that you were told and shown what to do? Or is that just teenagers in general? At least “vehemently” denying could be construed as caring….. or am I clutching at straws?

    Reply

  3. March 11, 2010 @ 11:51 am veryboredincatalunya

    Go away with hubby, after your pictures yesterday of the kid’s bedrooms how much worse can it get, if they burn the house down you’ll at least get rid of the smell of lynx. 😉 xx

    Reply

  4. March 11, 2010 @ 12:34 pm JulieB

    LOL! I’m not a teenager, but reading has the same effect on me – drives my hubby mad 🙂

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 12:39 pm vegemitevix

      I’m sure we are the only parents who have actually considered taking her books away as a punishment!

      Reply

  5. March 11, 2010 @ 12:34 pm JulieB

    LOL! I'm not a teenager, but reading has the same effect on me – drives my hubby mad 🙂

    Reply

  6. March 11, 2010 @ 12:35 pm Josie

    Holy Moly.

    What the crap was she reading?? It had to be good.

    As someone facing probably a good few years of gracefully adorned labels and ‘diagnosis’ on the boy who currently took an hour to fall asleep after the hoover being on for ten seconds, you have my sympathy.

    Afterall, how dull would life be without our interesting kids? 😉

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 12:38 pm vegemitevix

      Ahh yes I remember those days. Son couldn’t bear the sound of the vacuum. Good thing I’m a useless house cleaner! ;-p I’ve learnt to take the labels with a grain of salt. Labels are irrelevant in the end, but understanding the behaviour and how to help… that’s immeasurably useful!

      Reply

  7. March 11, 2010 @ 12:58 pm Jen Walshaw

    I think I was your daughter!! I was just like her when I was younger, my mum was offered medication for me, when they didnt give it out gerally!!

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 1:54 pm vegemitevix

      I didn’t really think about what was going on with me until I started getting these labels for the kids…I suppose now I admit that I probably fall into the ADD camp – always rushing off starting new stuff, impulsive, not finishing things, speak before think etc!

      Reply

  8. March 11, 2010 @ 1:38 pm vwallop

    My daughter’s 7, but it sounds like exactly the kind of thing she’d do and will do in the future. Currently she’s not reading well enough to get lost in a book, but she can easily get so lost in a game that she hasn’t noticed she’s forgotten to get dressed after the bath half an hour later.

    Reply

  9. March 11, 2010 @ 1:38 pm Notes From Lapland

    and I thought I could get prett absorbed in a book – I can easily not hear people talking to me and stuff – but a burning kitchen – that I hope I would notice!

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 1:56 pm vegemitevix

      I can get pretty absorbed too. I know some people who think of ADD as hyper-focussing but simultaneously on too much stimuli!

      Reply

  10. March 11, 2010 @ 10:53 am vegemitevix

    I think I clutch at the same straws Mrs W! Though it is a problemo because who can I get to look after said teens whilst I nick off to have a break with the husband? I had previously thought they'd be ok (oldest is almost 16)….but now…

    Reply

  11. March 11, 2010 @ 11:51 am veryboredincatalunya

    Go away, after your pictures yesterday of the kid's bedrooms how much worse can it get, if they burn the house down you'll at least get rid of the smell of lynx. 😉 xx

    Reply

  12. March 11, 2010 @ 12:35 pm Josie

    Holy Moly.

    What the crap was she reading?? It had to be good.

    As someone facing probably a good few years of gracefully adorned labels and 'diagnosis' on the boy who currently took an hour to fall asleep after the hoover being on for ten seconds, you have my sympathy.

    Afterall, how dull would life be without our interesting kids? 😉

    Reply

  13. March 11, 2010 @ 12:38 pm vegemitevix

    Ahh yes I remember those days. Son couldn't bear the sound of the vacuum. Good thing I'm a useless house cleaner! ;-p I've learnt to take the labels with a grain of salt. Labels are irrelevant in the end, but understanding the behaviour and how to help… that's immeasurably useful!

    Reply

  14. March 11, 2010 @ 12:39 pm vegemitevix

    I'm sure we are the only parents who have actually considered taking her books away as a punishment!

    Reply

  15. March 11, 2010 @ 12:58 pm themadhouse

    I think I was your daughter!! I was just like her when I was younger, my mum was offered medication for me, when they didnt give it out gerally!!

    Reply

  16. March 11, 2010 @ 6:02 pm Cate

    I was the kid whose mother took books off her every day as I could never get dressed or leave the house on time as I was reading. My solution when yet another book was added to the top of the fridge? Start another one – hence my habit of having anything up to ten books on the go today.

    Reply

  17. March 11, 2010 @ 6:02 pm Cate

    I was the kid whose mother took books off her every day as I could never get dressed or leave the house on time as I was reading. My solution when yet another book was added to the top of the fridge? Start another one – hence my habit of having anything up to ten books on the go today.

    Reply

  18. March 11, 2010 @ 1:38 pm vwallop

    My daughter's 7, but it sounds like exactly the kind of thing she'd do and will do in the future. Currently she's not reading well enough to get lost in a book, but she can easily get so lost in a game that she hasn't noticed she's forgotten to get dressed after the bath half an hour later.

    Reply

  19. March 11, 2010 @ 1:38 pm notesfromlapland

    and I thought I could get prett absorbed in a book – I can easily not hear people talking to me and stuff – but a burning kitchen – that I hope I would notice!

    Reply

  20. March 11, 2010 @ 6:39 pm mummymania

    oh i dread it…. i find the fact that they ignore me now highly frustrating – i can’t imagine how hard the teenage years are! Keep strong!!

    Reply

  21. March 11, 2010 @ 6:48 pm Kirsty

    PMSL! I’m laughing cos I can picture the whole scenario so clearly :). ADD my foot! She was able to focus her concentration on that book in a way that you or I would never be able to manage!! lol – just a deficit regarding real life happening around her…..:) Oh dear xx

    Reply

    • March 11, 2010 @ 7:05 pm vegemitevix

      Thanks lovely for commenting here! But to clarify who did you suspect was NOT ADD erm me or Dark Princess?

      Reply

    • March 12, 2010 @ 2:35 pm Susie @ Newdaynewlesson

      Disagree with you on that count. Add has all different types of manifestations. I have been diagnosed (5 out of 7 so far in my family, last 2 not cause are young). I am also exactly like Vicky’s daughter-get me in a book and the world can collapse around me. It is a place to escape to-as long as the subject matter interests me of course.

      Reply

  22. March 11, 2010 @ 1:54 pm vegemitevix

    I didn't really think about what was going on with me until I started getting these labels for the kids…I suppose now I admit that I probably fall into the ADD camp – always rushing off starting new stuff, impulsive, not finishing things, speak before think etc!

    Reply

  23. March 11, 2010 @ 1:54 pm vegemitevix

    Exciting times ahead!!! LOL!

    Reply

  24. March 11, 2010 @ 1:56 pm vegemitevix

    I can get pretty absorbed too. I know some people who think of ADD as hyper-focussing but simultaneously on too much stimuli!

    Reply

  25. March 11, 2010 @ 6:39 pm mummymania

    oh i dread it…. i find the fact that they ignore me now highly frustrating – i can't imagine how hard the teenage years are! Keep strong!!

    Reply

  26. March 11, 2010 @ 6:48 pm Kirsty

    PMSL! I'm laughing cos I can picture the whole scenario so clearly :). ADD my foot! She was able to focus her concentration on that book in a way that you or I would never be able to manage!! lol – just a deficit regarding real life happening around her…..:) Oh dear xx

    Reply

  27. March 11, 2010 @ 7:05 pm vegemitevix

    Thanks lovely for commenting here! But to clarify who did you suspect was NOT ADD erm me or Dark Princess?

    Reply

  28. March 12, 2010 @ 2:35 pm Susie @ Newdaynewlesson

    Disagree with you on that count. Add has all different types of manifestations. I have been diagnosed (5 out of 7 so far in my family, last 2 not cause are young). I am also exactly like Vicky's daughter-get me in a book and the world can collapse around me. It is a place to escape to-as long as the subject matter interests me of course.

    Reply


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