Guest Post: My Square Peg: Raising My ADHD Son

My Square Peg: Raising My ADHD Son. I am told that my son is “too much.” Too loud, too fidgety, too silly. But maybe my son isn’t confined by “normal." Guest post at

My Square Peg: Raising My ADHD Son

A Guest Post by Heather


I have two young sons who are full of life and vibrant energy, big ideas, questions about the world, and frustrations.

ADHD is talked about so much these days. Everyone has heard of it, everyone has an opinion about it, yet few people understand what it is like to live with it.

I remember the first time I read an article that referred to a child like mine as having “disabilities.” I was shocked. I was taking a bath after having put the boys to bed and I was relishing in the rare time to myself to read. I had been looking forward to reading the cover article, hoping it might offer some insight or hope for my situation. I ended the article indignant that the author had called my child disabled. Disabled? I had never in my son’s 12 years thought of him as disabled!

He is 12 awkward years of teeth falling out and growing in, gangly limbs, and bad haircuts, that he refuses to comb into a good haircut. Normal!

But as I sat soaking, I began to think about what “normal” meant. Was he normal? My body lit up and I had goosebumps as I sat in the warm water. “No!”

One of my sons is different. He is silly and playful like most 12-year-old boys, but he doesn’t seem to know when to stop. When he sings songs – he sings them repeatedly. Again and again, and with each reiteration, his voice gets louder, shriller, until whomever is nearby harshly demands he stop. Most of the time, he looks up, perplexed, and asks, “Stop what?” He  never sits still; constantly moving, shaking his legs. He cannot concentrate on most day-to-day tasks like brushing his teeth, doing his homework, or cleaning his room. He hyper-focuses on other things like television, his Legos, or the idea of going to buy a new toy. He is unable to sit in a conversation without interrupting, asking questions, or changing the subject. He likes to make people laugh more than anything, but he does not know when to stop. When the laughs stop, he does not.

He’s just “too much.” Too loud, too fidgety, too silly, too unfocused, too rude, too oblivious for most people. He’s the quintessential square peg in a world of round holes. He’s got jagged edges; hard to grasp and a little clunky.

I am constantly told by well-meaning people, “He just needs more __.” Their more means more rules, more discipline, -consequences, -restrictions, -schedules. As if we haven’t tried those things, repeatedly and without success. Clamping down just does not work on him. But their judgement still leaves me feeling like less.

Many days, I wake up feeling like a failure. I start my days with hopes, plans, good intentions, and patience. I end my days hopeless, behind on tasks, forlorn, and impatient.

They don’t know what it is like to watch this little person, who I am responsible for raising into a functioning adult, struggle. Every. Single. Day. To watch him be told that he’s not doing it right, not doing enough, that he’s lacking, failing, simply because he is himself.

But lately there’s been a shift in my thinking. “Disabled, my a$$!” The older he gets, the more I find myself hating the word “normal.” The more I experience life with my son, the more I think they’ve got it all wrong: “Normal” shouldn’t be the goal!

I get to laugh with my son and explore this BIG world he lives in! My son is what this world needs more of: creativity, a big thinker, not someone happy to just “moo” his way blindly with the herd. He is someone who wants and wants BIG. Someone who cares for others in a way that makes me want to cry at times, because he shames me with the beauty and goodness in him. He shows me a glorious world where learning can happen whether sitting, standing, hopping or humming. Where learning history can move beyond writing, to include an epic movie created on his iPad. Or an animated dragon because hell, why not??

My son shows me the beauty and chaos of being a kid with ADHD. He is someone who has so much to offer this world, that I get chills thinking of what he will teach others some day. I count myself lucky to get to watch and learn from him.

My square-peg son might not fit in this round-hole world, because he isn’t confined by the conventions of “normal.”  He’s creating his own normal and I know, that the only way I could fail is by trying to make him more “round.”

About Heather

Heather is the mom to two boys and the step-mom to another. She’s on a mission to help her son with ADHD find his way in this world, while keeping his sense of humor and ensuring her youngest doesn’t get lost in the shadow of ADHD. She remains sane with chocolate and the unwavering support of her husband.

11 comments on “Guest Post: My Square Peg: Raising My ADHD Son

  1. Yes. This is it. Normal is not the goal when your child is extraordinary. But I still feel that failure and judgement every day. Wish more teachers, parents, etc. could see the strengths in my son.

    • Yes, the failure and judgment follow me daily too. I think that’s why I feel like it is more important to celebrate my sons’ strengths, even if they are not what teachers and other parents would celebrate. I love seeing his doodles in his writing notebook (he’s a GREAT artist) more than I like seeing the 1 paragraph he struggled for 45 mins to get out. You’re not alone!
      Heather recently posted…The ImpossibleMy Profile

  2. yes, he IS all of those things you wrote about. But that just is a small part of what makes him the cool kid he is. He has an awesome personality and comes up with some of the funniest comments I have ever heard, He makes me laugh, is compassionate, sweet, gentleand the list could go on and on. But, stop and look around this crazy world we live in, look at the way people act, then ask yourself “what IS normal”

  3. I have been advocating this question itself about what normalcy is to you is different for me. So, leave our growing curious boys alone because someday they will grow to be men, husbands and fathers and successful just as these other “normal” kids are today! My son is almost 6 yrs and unfortunately behaves as a 4 yr old and thats just the way it is. He is

    loveable and wants nothing but acceptance from the world. Why can’t this stop! ? Thank u for sharing this article because i can relate to your frustrations

    • I am so thankful to hear that I am not alone and people can relate 🙂 My son is 12 but he often acts much younger. I read they are usually behind in maturity 2-3 years. But, he can make me laugh like no one else and that means more to me than getting an A in history.
      Heather recently posted…The ImpossibleMy Profile

    • Better and one day will probably wow the world with his greatness. I am sure of it. The world needs these imaginative, high energy, BIG thinkers. Imagine how boring it would be otherwise.
      Heather recently posted…The ImpossibleMy Profile

  4. I agree 100% that we shouldn’t try to make our square-peg kids round, however I do feel that ADHD is a disability. For at least 2 years after his diagnosis, I swore ADHD was a “different ability” not a “dis-ability.” But I finally realized that ADHD holds him back from reaching neurotypical expectations for his age. It’s a developmental disability, which keeps him behind the pack.

    Does he has qualities where he excels over his peers? Absolutely! He’s charming, loyal, creative, and wicked-smart. More so than the “norm.”

    It’s important to acknowledge and address the struggles, and refusing to see ADHD as a disability can prevent that.

    Penny Williams
    Author of “What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD” and “Boy Without Instructions”
    Parent of 2e preteen with ADHD, autism, and LDs
    Penny Williams recently posted…Taking time to exhale.My Profile

    • I struggle with this myself. I have moved from a view of myself as a victim of neurological/mental health issues, to an empowerment view… But the empowerment comes from the angle of survivorship, really, and I can’t deny those things…

      I don’t think of myself or my son as disabled, but there are certainly impairments… Definitely. I think the word can be so jarring to parents, though, and that’s a shame, because it shouldn’t carry negative connotations, but it sort of does, I guess. I can understand how people don’t want to say “I have a disabled child,” and having lived with the impairments myself, I know that there are lifelong difficulties faced… I wonder where that line is…

    • I agree on the “not neurotypical” aspect; they are not. My whole point is, we should stop treating them as dis-abled and providing all of these difficult to maintain accommodations and change our idea of normal. We should adapt the system to them, not make them adapt to the system. Especially, when the “system” i.e. the way we school/teach kids these days, doesn’t really work well for anyone.

      If my son were in a school that had an ADHD focused curriculum, taking into account the most recent research on what these kids needs to succeed, he would blow people’s minds with his ABILITY. If he could learn science in a room with natural light, standing, moving, maybe using something like Lego’s or hands on items to learn, he would thrive. Instead he’s asked to sit, still, quiet, listen to lectures, take notes, then sit again and answer questions on a test to prove he knows the stuff. ALL things he struggles with.

      Plus, labeling these kids as dis-abled sends the wrong message to them. They begin to see even the good things about ADHD as bad. They lose the pride in their artistic ability, their ability to hyper focus on something important, their big ideas; all things the world needs and that makes these people so spectacular.

      I wish we could change our idea of normal to include ADHD and then adapt schools, work places and expectations, to begin helping them harness their amazing ABILITIES, at a young age, so they move into adulthood feeling confident, wonderful and fully ABLE. Which they are.
      Heather recently posted…The ImpossibleMy Profile

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