What it is like to Parent a Hyperactive Child
Since the time that my son Max could crawl and get around, he has had two speeds, fast and faster. I remember peering in to check up on Max in his crib and he would be attempting an escape yelling out, "GO!" in an excited infant chant. As a matter of fact, "Go" was his first word even before "mama" or "milk." His freedom to get from one place to another was more important to him than even food or drink. And as soon as he was walking there was just no stopping him.
Max began to walk early and this soon turned to running. When he was a toddler we used the stroller not for him to get a rest but more for us to get a rest. One day a friend's mom offered to babysit for us. We were delighted as we did not get many offers such as this. But we did have to warn our experienced with children, except for the likes of Max, babysitter. When she told us she planned on taking Max for a walk outside we tried our best to hide our smiles and gently informed her that Max did not walk. He ran. When we strongly recommended that she bring the stroller she scoffed. I have raised children and now I am a grandparent. I know how to handle an energetic toddler. We said, "Oookay but don't say we didn't warn you!" Then we quickly slipped out the back door. When we returned our babysitter was red faced, panting, and sitting on a kitchen chair as Max was running laps around the room. It seems that she had to chase him down and hold onto the hood of his jacket just to keep up with him. "He has a lot of energy!" she gasped. "Yes he does," I confirmed. I wanted to add, "I told you so," but kept that to myself. No sense stating the obvious.
I remember the first time I thought we lost Max due to his wanderlust. My family and I were in an electronics store. Max was about three or four and it was one of those situations where I stopped to look at something and in a second Max was gone. With adrenaline surging I ordered my family to split up to look for him. Minutes later we spied him near the entrance playing with the automatic doors. He was entranced. I was never so grateful in my life that those doors held his interest long enough to stop him from running out of the store.
While my eldest son has always approached his environment with caution, Max has no such barriers. The whole world is something to be explored with a high speed frenzy. I often wondered how two children who were so different could come from the same genes. While Max's older brother is soft spoken and mild mannered, Max is loud and intense. Everything Max does is on the high speed dial. Dramatic, emotive, and extreme are just some adjectives one might use to describe Max's personality. And living with Max is like taking pure adrenaline. His frenetic energy will drive you to feel a similar surge through your nervous system. I believe that since Max was born I have two speeds myself, hyper vigilant or asleep.
There have been times I have felt more like Max's body guard than his mother. I feel that it is quite the accomplishment that my son has never been to the emergency room. I have shadowed him, watched over him, all the while also striving to give him space and independence. Who said parenting was easy?
I feel sometimes as though I am viewing life as a kaleidoscope-like blur. Max and I have raced through supermarkets, museums, holidays, and vacations. My most common sayings to Max have been "Wait!" "Stop" or "Slow down!" But it is like holding back an ocean wave. You can stand there and try to stop the wave from coming in which we know is impossible or you can roll with it. I have long ago ditched my high heels for tennis shoes. They are much more comfortable anyway.
We have attempted to channel Max's superman energy into creative and physical outlets. We have a small trampoline in our living room along with a huge exercise ball. We take Max hiking, biking, swimming, and rollerblading. And due to Max's passion for art we have reams of paper, baskets of markers, crayons, and paints at the ready. We painted part of the hallway with chalkboard paint so when the inspiration hits he can draw on the wall. My Max has been described as hyperactive and this is an apt description but behind the frenzy is a boy who really enjoys life. His passion and exuberance are contagious.
And when Max is finally asleep this is when I take off my running shoes, collapse into bed, and stop to smell the proverbial roses before drifting off to sleep myself.