If I hear one more rendition of the theme music to Long Way Down, I’m going to gouge my eyeballs out with an ice-cream scoop as a form of pain relief.
What can I say? It is the latest hyperfocus of my ADHD son.
In my previous life, I used to enjoy a not- entirely- innocent, (bordering perverted, if I’m honest) interest in Ewan McGregor’s antics in Africa. Suffice it to say, having been force fed the first series (and in particular the first episode), without respite, for the past year, that particular little middle-aged fantasy has been fully sated, and frankly, I never want to hear his dulcet Scottish tones again.
There are few social boundaries with ADHD, which can make sharing a house an intense experience. Rules become futile unless they can be absorbed and their consequences understood, so house rules are continually massaged in our home, and in their place there are degrees of flexibility that are further manipulated and reworked with far too much negotiation if I’m honest. We are weak parents.
The ADHD child invades everyone’s personal space, yet doesn’t share his own. Every member of a family has their foibles and ‘buttons’ regarding the foibles of others; my ‘button’ in relation to ADHD is the chaos, the tween’s is the lack of filter, the old man’s is the noise. That lack of dopamine can determine the energy of the house; the satisfaction he extracts from his obsessions often determines him.
Concentrating and organisational issues have been well documented, but what is less understood is the ADHD child’s ability to hyperfocus and the impact of that focus, good and bad.
Our son is currently hyperfocusing on Long Way Down.
‘Excess’ is a word I associate with my son. His excesses are done to excess, often to the point of obsession. He can eat to excess, he drinks juice to excesss, and talks to excess; often in different voices. He watches Long Way Down excessively.
There’s a whole load of scientific mumbo-jumbo as to why these kids hyperfocus on areas of interest and demonstrate high distractability around ‘boring’ stuff, such as co-morbidity and the side effects of medication. It’s a fact that with ADHD you often get the ‘premium’ package, a sort of three for one.
My son has a very kinesthetic approach to his obsessions; he ‘lives’ through them. Sometimes he sleeps with his guitars, for example.
Where once he simply played them, now he disassembles them, physically analysing every detail of their structure, systematically stripping them back to remove their innards; to see how they work. I often wonder how my son ‘works’.
I now wake in the middle of the night humming the theme tune to Long Way Down.
The tween and I can recite the first episode word for word, from the moment Ewan breaks his leg and has to make coffee for himself on crutches – a tricky task when your day job is as a supes world famous, mega-rich actor and you probably haven’t had to make your own coffee for a very long time. To loveable rogue, gap-toothed Charlie, being a bit ‘silly’ (like, all the time), who mucks up the African Orientated Hostile Environment Training Course (!) just prior to their London departure. ‘Ohhhh, Charrrrrlieeee, (in heavy, sensual Scottish accent), you stupid f*cking bastard,’ is a recurring theme.
I suspect that Charlie is ADHD. Charlie is Laurel to Ewan’s Hardy; the perfect double act.
I keep trying to explain to my son that unless he is in training to perfect a Scottish accent or motorbike wheelies, his groundhog viewing habits are really not educational. And furthermore, the open-plan design of our fibro beach-house is not conducive to revving motorbikes and guitar distortion; noisy, guttural sounds that resonate sharply around stark white walls and echoing timber floors.
Our neighbours no longer discuss what the other neighbours are doing, with us.
And the special 4D effect pushbike which is permanently parked in the middle of my sitting room conflicts horribly with my driftwood and sisal beach decor, if I’m honest. He rides it with Ewan and Charlie across Africa.
And did I mention that he sometimes wears snorkeling goggles while eating dinner, or that I fear that his passion for guitars has usurped his love for me, or the potential to love a girl in his future? Or that it’s physically quite difficult to watch television through the frame of a bicycle, or discuss unfinished school assignments while your son sips custard through a straw?
ADHD is a real condition.
I see flashes of madness and moments of brilliance in my boy. The mind works in mysterious ways and like my son’s guitars, we are all wired differently.