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Friday, November 14, 2014

Hard Truths

So I have a birthday next week.  Anything over 25 is old, right?  Let's be honest.

Sure, folks run marathons, keep fit, and are clearly live longer.  But to be young, that is a different story.  To go out on a Tuesday, get shit faced, roll into the office at 8am and do it all over again the next night.   Its way easier doing that in your 20s.  Now, don't get me wrong your 20s are for the most part pretty miserable.  You don't know who you were.  You have to find a career, soul mate, "American Dream."  You desperately try to find your place.  It kinda sucks.

But boy were you fit.  It would take an exceptional bender to knock you out of commission.

Around 40 you can go out and close bars.  Ain't no way you are gonna be productive at work the next day.  And more often than not you are feeling nauseous days after the big night.  Recovery time is what defines "youth."  If I have as much as a beer tomorrow I know I will feel differently in the morning.  Lame.  Ass.  Punk.

Not that I obsess about age.  Any day above ground is a good one as far as I am concerned.

Each year is more valuable though, and I get that.

And it occurs to me that I am not like everyone else.  Certainly not in the suburban setting I find myself living in.

I am not really good at making money.  So how can I correct that?  Where does that drive come from?  What is it that prevents me from wanting more?  It is not for lack of effort.  This year I have done more than any other, and McMansions we aren't buying.   Not a complaint, rather an observation.   We have had way better financial years but that did not necessarily make our lives any better.  In many ways it may have caused greater issues.

So it has been a leaner year, yet somehow there is an inward peace telling me, "its gonna be ok."

Over the last year or so our daughter, a 7th grader, has been diagnosed with ADHD.  It has been a challenge.  Mostly though, it has been enlightening.  My wife and I have joked for years about how we suffer(ed) from it.

We all knew kids on Ritalin during the 70s and 80s.   It was the "overactive" kids remedy.  The term "ADHD" was not in our collective vocabulary so for the most part those kids were labeled "problems."  If you grew up in a town like mine their school districts were ill equipped to handle them.  Worse still, if those kids came from lesser means and would inevitably drop out of school and find trouble.

Maybe my wifes' parents and mine had just enough to get us the help we needed.  For us, it meant private schools that shielded us from bullying and let us find our place amongst a smaller band of misfits.  Let's not underestimate nuns with rulers as a persuasive tool to gain one's attention.

But I think if we were tested using today's model my wife and I would both fall somewhere on the ADHD "spectrum."

The rules are way different now.  Whereas I hate the idea of "participation trophies" in youth sports I think leveling the playing the field in the classroom works just fine.

In sports it is pretty easy to keep score.  Lacrosse team 1 Other Lacrosse Team 0.  Easy.  Winner and Loser.

Although ice skating and gymnastics is a different story.  How on Earth can you tell who wins some of those events??

But in Math, Science, Language, we don't all process the same way.  And that is ok.  I know I see math differently than many of my friends.  The fact that they see it at all makes them more an expert than me.    I look through it.  I avoid it.  It humbles me like very little else.

That is not to say I could not have done well in math.  But I did enough to get through it and once I went to college I did not need it again.  I know my daughter sees math very similar to me.  The trick is to convince her 1) no she does not and 2) get everyone else on board with it.

Her report card for the first term comes home later today and I would be surprised if she didn't have an A in math.  Shit I most likely don't understand.  But with parental knowledge comes the ability to parent efficiently.

Do I want to medicate my daughter?  Of course not.  This is a decision we did not take lightly.  Richard Friedman wrote an outstanding piece in the New York Times detailing the evolution of the "disease" and suggests it might not be an illness after all.  His notion that those diagnosed are not unlike nomads or ancient hunters.  We move from one thing to another out of boredom, out of the need to learn and discover more, to evolve.

Should that be looked at as a disability?  Or even a hindrance?

People are just different.  Everyone has a skill set that needs to be cultivated.  Now, to somehow navigate through it with the least amount of tears.

It will be age 42 next week.  And it is about time to start putting some wisdom to good use.

Our job is to move forward.  To leave this place better than how we inherited it.

Because that is what maturation has is all about.

Maturation is nothing more than tempering expectations, minimizing and/or avoiding bullshit, and eliminating persons and things that fail to yield positive results. Oh, and eating well and exercising. But F that last part!!!

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