In the week that NC has achieved another milestone by passing her driving test, Kurt’s dangerous enthusiasm for life has escalated to a new hair-greying level.
A text with ‘I’m all G’ doesn’t quite cut it at ten o’clock the morning after a sleepless work night spent waiting for the reassuring sound of your teenager’s key in the lock of the front door sometime before midnight.
Especially when you have to work the next day, refreshed and invigorated, professional to a degree – still, with no idea where your child is – and the only thing you can think about is which bush they’re lying dead beneath or which drug squat they’re holed up in.
Anxious or not, rational thought doesn’t enter the parent’s mind from 1am in the morning when you’re sleep-deprived and hallucinate about all the terrible things that have obviously befallen your irresponsible, yet much-loved child, each time you close your eyes. The knowledge that Sydney is on the whole a pretty safe city to live in, that your child is most likely couch-surfing at a mate’s, or that statistically is highly unlikely to have been murdered, abducted or kidnapped doesn’t come into play.
Every parent goes though this phase with their teenagers at some point in the morphing-into-adulthood process, not just the highly fortunate ones among us with kids with ADHD; the difference being that most non-ADHD kids don’t have the over-impulsive, thrill-seeking tendencies of our son Kurt, nor his talent for losing vital home-tracking/homing-pigeon aids such as wallets, keys and phones due to his poor executive functioning skills – especially under the influence.
Can it only be last weekend that we were telephoned at three in the morning to be asked to collect him from the city centre, because he had found a bike in council clear up, come off it at speed and taken off the side of his face in the process?
Sadly, the seizure he had on a bus recently (that the doctor put down to ‘burning the candle at both ends’) doesn’t appear to have dulled his enthusiasm for embracing life to the full, nor had any marked effect on his approach to responsibility.
Meanwhile the grey hairs become thicker, the lines around my eyes more ingrained, the need to reach for wine more habitual.
My boy is eighteen now – an adult in the eyes of the law. I remember how we breathed a huge sigh of relief when we celebrated his milestone birthday last year, although still ever mindful that his ADHD age is closer to sixteen, thus his emotional intelligence and decision-making skills are not up there with his desire and legal ability to exert his independence and experiment to the full.
And while is not uncommon for eighteen-year olds to behave in such an altruistic way, those without the ADHD curse tend to learn from their mistakes more quickly, understand consequences and put the life pieces together as they become increasingly aware of their mortality.
It was all true. You never stop worrying about your children.