Eating Elephants and Other ADD/ADHD Conundrums

“How do you eat an elephant?” my husband asked seeing the look of frustration on my face. It is his way of reminding me that I am trying to do too much at once.
When I was in grade school, there was no such thing as ADD or ADHD or LD or even differentiated instruction. If you had an attention deficit, it certainly wasn’t a disorder, you just needed more discipline to learn how to pay attention. If you were hyper on top of not being able to pay attention, you needed to spend more time in the principal’s office. Heaven forbid you should have any other type of learning difficulties: these were entirely your fault and you were simply put in the back of the class with the safety scissors and glitter. The real teaching was for those that were smart enough to learn.
I struggled a little in second grade to keepU up with a particularly daunting written task until my mother taught me an invaluable skill that I use even to this day. Thanks to that very clever woman, I can still look at a page and copy it without looking at my hand or the paper I’m writing on. Now, it’s not always the neatest handwriting, and at times it does wander from the established straight line, still it is a skill I am very proud to possess.
Thanks to my mother’s ingenuity, and constant guidance and support, I was able to do much better in third grade with mundane written tasks. When I brought home my report card, my dad was impressed, and believe me it wasn’t easy to impress him. Every mark was an ‘A’. “I’ll pay you five dollars for every ‘A’ on this report card at the end of the year,” he said to me when he saw it.
What I remember most about third grade was that my teacher, Mrs. Wilder, had a writing center. I do not recall writing being a majorly taught subject as it is now, but I remember the writing center. It was a desk set apart from the rest of the class, sitting up against a wall. It had a wooden cubicle surrounding it on three sides, much like public library cubicle desks. On the top shelf sat a tray for blank notebook paper, a cup of pencils, and a small open wooden box of crayons (for illustrating our work, naturally). On the writing surface there was a small recipe box full of index cards containing writing ideas.
I know this particular desk so well because with my new skill I found myself finished much earlier than my other peers. With the extra time I was allowed to go to the writing center. I think she had other centers as well for all that finished early, I just never paid attention to any of them. In that secluded writing cubicle I was in another world, my world. And I created a lot of my own little worlds over the course of that school year.
“How about I take you to Disney World instead,” my dad asked scratching his head holding my report card in his order hand on the last day of school. “I think it would be cheaper!”
The entire report card was filled with ‘A’s! As a result of my stellar academic performance I was recommended for the gifted class the following year. In North Carolina, in our school district at least, the gifted class was an all day, every day, for a whole school year advanced level of study for students. Our teacher, Mrs. Wall taught us everything from music, to P.E. and all of the other core subjects, all at a slightly higher cognitive level than the other fourth grade classes in the school.
Mrs. Wall ran the class like clockwork. Everything was timed down to the minute and most activities were student self directed, within the confines of her preset time limits naturally. This is where I got lost. There were a couple of parent conferences early on in the year because I was a dreamer, that’s what they called kids with ADD, those who couldn’t pay attention but weren’t necessarily a behavior problem. being a dreamer was fine in Mrs. Wilder’s class, where I could put my imagination to good use, in stories on paper. In Mrs. Wilder’s class the work always seemed so easy, I didn’t mind doing it to get to my favorite corner so I didn’t waste time dreaming during class. However, in Mrs. Wall’s class I could not be a dreamer and succeed. There was far too much work to do.
In the end it all worked out, though. Once again my brilliant mother came up with a strategy to help me keep up with my studies and make it through the year still earning ‘A’s and ‘B’s. Anything lower simply was not acceptable according to my parents. My mother’s idea of writing my assignments in a small memo pad as soon as I got to each academic center helped me to make sure I could complete the assignment later if I didn’t finish in the allotted class time.
Writing a novel can be a taunting task when you have ADD. You want it done, all of it, right now, and when the prose doesn’t flow as smoothly or as freely as you’d like, and the words don’t magically appear on the page you can get frustrated and then want to give up. Short stories, blog entries and poems can be easier. Don’t take the easy road, don’t give up on your dream of being a best selling author! Get out yourself a little memo pad and jot down your notes, then plug away as often as you can building that novel, piece by piece, page by page, word by word until it is done.
So how do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TheOthers1
    Mar 07, 2012 @ 23:12:44

    Your mother is/was a gem! Having someone teach you what you need so you can succeed is extremely valuable. 🙂


    • makergoddess
      Mar 08, 2012 @ 05:27:59

      She is an incredibly amazing woman! She is who I have tried to be like for so long, falling horribly short of the mark of course.

      I felt like I was rambling with this piece, though. Did it come across that way?


      • TheOthers1
        Mar 08, 2012 @ 07:21:54

        It may seem that way because the paragraphs are so close together. I think it works for the content of the post though.

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