Friday, February 14, 2014

Overactive and Underachieving

As a child, I proved to be far more than a single mother, on welfare and with two other kids could easily handle. I absolutely abhorred being still or staying put. It simply felt unnatural to me.

My older brother Jeffrey and younger sister Michelle were never as prone to acting out, failing to follow rules or displaying a lack of self-control as I was. I got into enough mischief for all of us.

It is quite possible that they felt sorry for me on occasion and wondered how one of their siblings could end up having to be spanked more frequently than they brushed their teeth. For the most part, there was no stopping me and seemingly no limit to my wild imagination.

By today’s standards, I would have been labeled as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Why the ADHD diagnosis fit me so well that you could have included my portrait with the definition as the picture perfect example.

If I thought about anything long enough then the next step was for me as the Nike slogan proclaims, was to "Just do it!" As an example, I remember a neighborhood friend coming to my house one day with his new dart board and darts.  We immediately went out in the backyard to hang the dart board on a tree trunk and begin throwing darts at the colorful bulls-eye target.  After hours of practice I had convinced myself at least that I was pretty good.

Impulsively and recklessly I thought that all of a sudden I could easily strike the dartboard while my friend was standing directly in front of it. With his back to me and without any forewarning whatsoever, I threw one of the darts at the target. It went off mark completely piercing my friends right earlobe and sending him into pain and tears

Clearly, I did not thinking about how I might be endangering my friend. My poor judgment and self-deception was in mistakenly thinking that I had somehow mysteriously gained a level of mastery over dart throwing that would allow me to perform an incredible feat like those only rarely seen on the television screen or as part of a spectacular live circus act.
Of course, my friends parents promptly concluded that I was a danger to society and as a result I forever lost a childhood friendship, and deservedly so, that same day.  I also got the beating of my life from my Mothet.  There's probably a very good chance that she  thought that I was a little touched in the head as well even though I don't recall her ever having said anything quite as alarming as that. Heaven knows I certainly put her through a great deal as a kid.

Unbeknownst to others, for this and other deeds, I was sent to both school guidance counselors and out of school psychologists all in an attempt to try and figure out why it was that I was so prone to being such a problem child. My Mother did express concern from time to time that I was going to be just like my father who she apparently believed was no good and never would be. She never provided me with any more information than that. I suppose the fact that he was not present in our lives could be viewed as sufficient justification for her position on the matter.

Some adults who were familiar with me would argue that I was a likable and not at all an outright mean-spirited kid by any means. However, without a doubt, my judgement was very poor and I often needed very close supervision.

Unfortunately, there were a couple of other kids in the neighborhood just as equally deficient in the area self-control. We all knew one another and much to the consternation of our parents we tended to gravitate toward each other with the common prospect of creating an enormous amount of excitement for ourselves.

As is often said, mischief does seem to love company.

Before long, the overwhelming recommendation by others was to try and get me engaged in organized extra-curriculum activities. The kind that would require that I constantly practice following rules, assimilate positive virtues, and where I could be regularly exposed to more exemplary male role models who would be apt to sit on me so to speak if I even looked like I was about to get out of line.

Of course, I initially resisted these efforts as much as pissible but the talented people that were inserted into my life would prove successful in wearing me down and better channeling most of my enormous energy, and progressively guided me in my assigned tasks whether it was in summer camp, weekly church activities, school or at the YMCA were I regularly participated in arts and crafts, swimming, and came to greatly enjoy playing competitive basketball.

Their efforts served to build my self-confidence, led to my making new friendships, and helped in improving my ability to focus on my performance both inside and outside of the classroom and as a result my grades began moving upward.  It also became quite clear though that no matter how good an athlete you were, if your grades were not up to par then you could not participate in school sports or enjoy the rewarding accolades and popularity that often came with them being an athlete.

Being every bit the attention seeking sort of rascal that I was and having reached the start of puberty being counted out of sports simply would never do for me.

Don’t let me fool you though, for the longest time I was still tremendously overactive albeit less prone to being an underachiever in most areas.