Yesterday was Father’s Day, and despite the popular notion that I was hatched, I do actually have a father.
My dad is a rather well kept specimen of slightly more than 8 decades. And while he’s had a rather long list of hobbies, he has showed few other signs of being one of us. He is, to put it bluntly, a norman, an “NT,” he’s neurotypical, a sufferer of Delusions of Normalcy. That’s my dad.
When I was a child growing up in the sixties and seventies, my father was away at work most every day. He even worked every other Saturday. So he wasn’t constantly physically present in my childhood home. But he was there every evening, and he was there every Sunday and the Saturdays in between.
I get my creative and distracted nature from my mother, so I don’t quite feel the same strength of relationship with my father as I did with her, but there was something else, something important.
My father had something in him that caused him to be attracted to my mother. And since I have many of her traits, he was predisposed to liking me.
… well, most times.
Sadly, it was from my father that I often heard the lines that have become the lyrics to the theme music of our lives. “You just need to focus.” “You don’t have to say everything that comes into your mind.” “If you would just apply yourself, you’d be able to do this.” “You’ve got to learn to finish up what you start.”
But still, I was lucky. He was not an easily frustrated man back then, and I was someone who could frustrate people easily. I won’t suggest that he never reached the end of his wits when dealing with me, it happened, but through it all there was an underlying current of desire for me to succeed.
There’s good news, and bad news …
That made it easier for me to tolerate those old lines of negativity – in some ways, but it made it harder in others. Because he was clearly concerned for my well being and because I am who I am, it felt like I was letting him down. And because the only assessment I had of my behaviour was that I just wasn’t trying hard enough, it was worse. Did I not love my father enough to do this simple thing that obviously was so easy to do?
Super hero time!
I am a super hero. I am the ADHD Man Of DistrAction. But back then I was just a child. A child living in a world where ADHD was unknown, a world where only the most enlightened parents and teachers recognized that there was no connection between intelligence and distractedness. My father recognized my intelligence, but that made it more difficult for him to see that my problems were not just me not applying myself.
Now I look back at those days with my Super Ultra 20/20 Hindsight Vision and I see the love that was behind the lectures. And I see the futility that caused the frustration and self-criticism. And I can now say to myself “It’s past, neither of them knew, it can’t be changed … but you can look at it differently.”
Perception is everything
I’m not suggesting we rewrite the past. Let it stand as it is. You can’t learn from experiences you deny. But we can perceive our past in a new light, we can consider all the angles, we can do what we often do best, show our younger selves and parents some of our famous empathy.
And happy Father’s Day, dad. I’m a day late, but … I have ADHD, so that’s gonna happen sometimes. I still love you.