Today is my oldest son’s birthday.
It’s not always easy with Detective Munch. On top of the fact that he’s a lot like me, and – newsflash! – I am not always easy! (Shocking, I know.) He also has ADHD, as I’ve written about, and podcasted about, before. I still haven’t figured out how to parent through his ADHD, which is no surprise, as I also haven’t figured out how to parent, period, which doesn’t help.
But I’m trying. Years ago, I told you about the things that make Detective Munch so great. Today I’m going to tell him.
Over the past few years, one of the things Mom and Buried and I have learned about kids with ADHD is their tendency to be really hard on themselves. Their symptoms open them up to a lot of criticism from parents, teachers and other adults, many of whom don’t always realize that the lack of focus and hyperactivity is not simple misbehavior.
On top of that, their differently-wired brains tend toward the negative, especially when it comes to their self-esteem, which is heartbreaking. Hearing your child call himself “the worst kid ever” or say “I can’t do anything right” is simply crushing.
To counteract this, kids like Detective Munch need an extra-helping of praise. It’s one of the reasons my wife and I talk so openly about our son’s diagnosis and behavior; we want to remove the stigma from the condition, and help our son understand that ADHD doesn’t make him bad, or set him back, it just makes him different.
My newly 10-year-old doesn’t lack positive qualities, many of which – if not a direct result of his differently-wired brain – certainly go part-and-parcel with it. Today, on his 10th birthday, I want to remind him of how special he is, how much Mom and Buried and I – and the Hammer! – love him, and most importantly, how much he deserves to love himself.
- Your imagination is off the charts – The elaborate worlds, characters, and stories you devise with your LEGO sets and superhero costumes and other random toys totally blow my mind. I usually have no idea what the hell you’re talking about, but that’s what makes you a visionary pioneer. Now please start writing that crazy stuff down so you can become a millionaire!
- Your hair is POPPIN’! – Seriously, it’s thick and curly and looks effortlessly cool at all times. Can I have some?
- You’re getting more and more independent – The past year hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been so proud of the way you’ve hunkered down with remote schooling, helped take care of and, frankly, occupy your insane little brother, and gotten so self-sufficient that your mom and I can now sleep in on the weekends. (I can’t stress that last one enough.) It’s impressive to watch you grow up.
- You have insane FOMO – I won’t lie, sometimes it’s annoying AF, but it’s a sign of loving life so much you can’t get enough of it! Being passionate is a plus.
- You have great taste in pop culture – from movies and TV to books and video games, the fantasy worlds you enjoy are a great mix of Marvel and mythology, outer space and Hyrule. You even like Hamilton, Yellow Submarine, and Baby Got Back. That’s what I call well-rounded!
- You have a great sense of humor – You’re quick with a joke and you love a good comeback. Sure, your sarcasm sometimes gives me a run for my money, and you material needs some work (what 10-year-old doesn’t like poop and butt jokes?), but you’ve got great instincts. Few things are more important in life than being able to make – and take – a joke.
- Your memory frightens me – The recall you have for the fictional worlds you read about and watch – not to mention the half-promises Mom and I make to get you to shut up sometimes – is off the charts.
- You show real leadership – Whether you’re bringing your friends along on a Roblox mission or bringing your brother along on a game of ATTACK DAD! (please stop, my back hurts), it’s a thrill to watch you decide what needs to be done and lead the way without waiting for someone else to go first. That kind of confidence will serve you well.
- You read like the wind – Yes I know the wind can’t read YOU GET MY POINT!
- You have a huge heart – Your emotions are big and raw and real. They can be overwhelming sometimes, but they’re also a gift. Stretch out with your feelings, and don’t be ashamed of them! Like your ADHD, having a big heart is a superpower too. Don’t lose it.
Happy birthday, Detective Munch!
You made us parents – You made us a family. Sure, your brother came later, and sometimes he needs more attention, but you’re the OG. You’ll always be special to us, and we’ll always love you, no matter what.