You know, a lot of bad things happened in my youth. For instance, I started drinking and smoking around 12 years of age. But a lot of great things happened as well. I was encouraged by my mother to be creative in any way I should choose. Photography and art, music and, of course writing, were all considered worthy pursuits.
Kelly, as a child, lost in thought, was as common a sight as Kelly climbing a … well, anything that could be climbed (and many things that looked like they couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t).
Daydreaming was referred to as “gathering wool” by my grandmother, “gathering daisies” by my grandfather. My mother would call it either, but it was said quietly.
They smiled rather than frowned at me. There was, in my family, an admiration for the process of thought, and daydreaming was thought.
I had chores I was not allowed to shirk, but I wasn’t scolded for living inside my head, I was brought back to reality by being asked what I was thinking, asked in a kind and solicitous way.
If I picked up a pen, a guitar, a brush, even a hammer, I was considered to be busy and I was left undisturbed for as long as possible. If I stepped up to the piano the same thing applied. More than that, I was allowed to write the worst stuff, paint garbage, build useless creations, and make discordant noises. And I learned from those things.
Away from home, I was considered an oddity. We all know how that feels. But I didn’t care. I had a few friends and they were enough, and I had home to return to. I was ostracized away from home, but I knew when I got back that I would fit, that there was a place for me.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized the actual value of being allowed to photograph dirt, write junk, build jetsom, and shatter windows with cacophonous disharmony. It was an excellent way to make oneself comfortable with an activity. And it took a long time, as I would flit from book to piano, saw to camera, pencil to guitar – interspersed with long spells of wool gathering.
I have no children, but I’ve been a child most of my life, having taken a brief time out at the beginning to be an infant. So from that unimpeachable pillar of certainty, I can offer my opinion as fact, knowing fully that someone will disagree with me.
Here it is: Make a child learn to play, or write, or photograph or whatever, and assess everything that child produces on the merits of the result, and there will be a strong likelihood that child will grow to hate that activity. But give them permission to do it, offer encouragement, show interest and refrain from judgment when they stray, and there is a chance, a good one, that they will grow to love that which they are allowed to do.
I love to write. I love to take pictures and I adore reading. The piano never became an instrument that I could coerce into sounding good, but I have always loved making noise with one. And I still love to play guitar and singing.
My wonderful friend, Janie Wilson, at the ADDiva Network was listening to my music last Monday. She told me I should write an ADHD song. I’d rather write a good song and tell the world that this is what an ADHDer can do.
Maybe I can write a good song about ADHD? Satisfy both criteria? But writing and playing music isn’t something I could do if I hadn’t been allowed to make noise and gather wool in my childhood.
After all, I have ADHD, you know.
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Last reviewed: 25 May 2012