Thursday, February 15, 2007
Electricity, Ice, Life, and Fear
An ice storm knocked out our electricity and cable (phone, internet and TV). I am in constant awe of nature. Perhaps more impressive is the power of electricity. Electricity has the power to keep families separated with distractions. On this cold, icy, stormy night, my wife, my three kids and I played the game of Life without distractions. I enjoyed this time tremendously.
As I reflect on the game. I realized that this board game quite accurately illustrated our real lives. My nine-year-old son won. Life comes so easy for him. My six-year-old daughter insisted on doing everything herself as she laughed her way through a very successful life. My older son, who struggles with real life as he battles ADD, struggled in this board game as well. His first spin was a 1. His second spin was a 1. His third spin was a 1. He started off slow and as a result struggled to catch up. He ended up with the least amount of money and then blamed his misfortune on everyone else. My older son did not speak a word until he was about three. He has been catching up in real life and blaming others for his misfortunes ever since.
Truth be told. My older son is the reason I started this Blog. I could not reconcile the vast differences in my kids. I also struggled to understand my son’s issues. He looks like a normal kid on the outside. I can only image the pain he has on the inside. I struggle to understand him because I am so different from him.
We are like night and day. I was a hardworking kid. I made money from the time I was 10 years old. I had so much money at age 12 that my dad and mom borrowed money from me when they needed help with a down payment on a new home. I brought that work ethic to school as a result I did better at school than I really should have.
Fear was my motivating factor. I never wanted to disappoint anyone including myself. I also feared looking stupid. This particular fear did not dissipate as I achieved more and more, in fact, the better I did in school the more fearful I became. Which makes sense because the expectations by me and others always seemed higher. This fear drove me to succeed from my days in elementary school until I graduated with my a Ivy League Masters Degree.
I remember the first fearful day of engineering college. It started with a speech from the dean. He said look to your right and look to your left, those people will not graduate with an engineering degree. There were 628 students in that auditorium non more fearful than me. True to the dean's word, about 210 graduated. I worked my ass off and graduated 26th in the College of Engineering and 5th in Mechanical Engineering. But it came with a price. I sacrificed fun and friends to succeed in college. As a result I made no good lasting fun friendships. But fear is no fun so I didn't really have a choice.
So you can understand why I struggle to understand my son's lack of motivation in school, in forging and maintaining friendships and in the real game of life.
In my quest to help my son, I met a man who is now a successful computer programmer. This man suffered or I should say suffers from ADD. Through telling me about his life experiences, he has opened my eyes that this is a real learning disability that requires real and unique strategies. I am in the camp that ADD and ADHD is over diagnosed. But I am now firmly in the camp that ADD and ADHD are real and they can be debilitating.
Fear may be my son's motivating factor too, except he is not motivated by it in a positive way. He is fearful that he will fail, so he does not try at all. Like I said, we are so different.
Now that I have finally announced this, I will share more on this subject in the future