As a parent of kids with ADHD, mornings can be frustrating. Actually, that’s an understatement. They can be down right hell. That’s why, when I read an article on how to facilitate a positive morning routine, I was initially confused. “What the…??? Now I have to play hand puppets in the morning?”
I’ve tried multiple tricks, suggestions, motivators, timers, task timers, star charts, and post it notes. I didn’t see how a hand puppet would help, unless it meant I could scrunch the puppet’s face into a fist and punch something.
Mornings start with alarms, pleading, and sometimes literally dragging kids out of bed. Madeline usually showers in a reasonable amount of time, but turns into a half dressed zombie staring blankly into the closet of cascading clothes and forgets she needs to eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and gather her books. Although alarms beep, radios blare, her M.O is to wait until the third or fourth bellow from the kitchen, “Madeline!” run downstairs, take one bite of breakfast, and stuff books into a bag as I slather PB&J at lightning speed.
I pepper her with typical questions, “Madeline, where’s your lunch box? Did you get the permission slip I signed? What about breakfast?
Madeline points to the one bite of toast, “I have to go Mom.”
Talking to her backside as she heads out the door, “At least eat a vitamin and take this” I say, handing her a granola bar as a latch ditch effort to get nutrition into her. Surveying the counter, I notice she forgot the permission slip. “Wait… you forget this!” I yell as I scoot after her in my holey slipper socks.
Racing back upstairs, both of Cole’s reminder alarms have gone off, but he’s exactly the way I left him, a limp body on the floor still in his pajamas. “Buddy! Let’s go!” I exclaim frustrated. My ADHD son has no concept of time, will turn off all alarms and lay in a happy dazed lifeless heap on the floor . The only thing that appears to work is my physical presence looming over him. Perhaps this is when the puppet is supposed to work it’s magic, but instead I sound like a scratched vinyl record skipping over the same lyrics, “put your clothes on, put your clothes on, put your clothes on.”
Finally dressed, hyperactivity suddenly explodes from his body, as he bunny hops to the bathroom, giving the cat a few wallops on the way. Leaving Cole in the bathroom to brush his teeth, I go to check on Annalise and return to find Cole waving his electronic toothbrush in the air and spraying water all over the mirror. At this point, if I had a hand puppet, I’d use it to wipe down the bathroom.
Finally at the kitchen table for breakfast, my mind races through a check list of items as I assemble more lunches and breakfasts. “Cole, did you put your homework in your folder?
“No. I forgot it on the floor.” Herein lies another struggle. I could run upstairs and gather his stuff and be back in ten seconds, or make him accountable for tracking things and send him upstairs. If I do everything, he’ll never learn, however, when piece of lint on the carpet distracts him for ten minutes, I struggle to find balance. Would a puppet help?
Back in the kitchen, I sound like a broken record again, “Take another bite, take another bite, take another bite”, I remind Cole between his random questions and comments.
“Mom, did you know the hippo is the most dangerous animal in the world?… Can I have a sleep over on Friday?… Don’t’ forget to glue my dragon…
Running late as usual, I grab a handful of gummy vitamins, usher Cole and Anna to the front door, and scan the collage of post it notes. They’re one of the suggestions I adopted as helpful reminder to the kids, but in actuality, they’re as much for me as them.
Finally, with kids out the door, I take a deep breath of relief. The torture of morning is finally over. I wipe my perspiring brow and release the tension in my shoulders I didn’t realize I was holding. I imagine looking down at my hand puppet, giving myself a “high five” and saying, “we did it.”
Nah…. It’s more likely I’d stand on the front porch in my bathrobe and holey slipper socks rubbing a soaking wet hand puppet across my brow, realize it’s smeared with toothpaste and PB&J, then eat the gummy vitamin stuck to its nose.