I never knew what fear felt like before I became a parent.
While my faith grounds me and I know from a biblical perspective, I am not to live in fear as it’s a barrier to my relationship with God, I do have it.
One of my strongest fears ties into one of my son’s greatest strengths…isn’t that ironic? My parent “fear” is losing my child. Meaning, he will get lost and I’ll never see him again. (Gosh, I am feeling utterly vulnerable sharing this!) Maybe because it’s happened at least 5 times since he’s been born. The wandering in crowds seems to own us, even though I’d consider myself an amazing hyper alert and vigilant mom when it comes to crowds and my children. Case in point, even the most vigilant parents can lose their child in the blink of an eye if they don’t have their eyes on them. Most recently this past summer and I’m sharing it because this last time I learned something about my son when he got lost. Something I didn’t realize about him.
It was one of the first weekends of summer and we made the trip to our local amusement park. We were all obviously giddy with anticipation for the day ahead, but when we got out of the car, we made sure to stop and put on sunscreen. We could hear the people screaming whilst riding the rides and music was playing throughout the park. Our boys were looking around at the massive roller coasters and all the swirly whirly metal rides around the park, excited to join in the fun.
Our day progressed, but before long the sky fell black, thunder rolled and the sky opened up. It was an all out Southern summer thunderstorm. We all bolted for the car along with hundreds of others exiting the park. It was raining so hard I could barely see 3 ft ahead of me. Before long, we made it to the truck, except my son. He was nowhere to be found. In the running and confusion, he became lost. And we had lost sight of him.
Words really can’t explain how I felt, as I went from 0-100 in half a second thinking I’d never see him again. I immediately began screaming for him in the parking lot, as if anyone could hear me over the roaring of the storm. I ran back and forth from the entrance of the park to the truck, up and down the parking lots to no avail. There was a woman who even stopped and asked me what he was wearing and I described him and she ran the opposite direction in search of him. I saw her 2 more times with no success. (I would have loved to give her a hug and thank her for caring about my son, but I never saw her after that moment.)
They say, when in utter panic mode, a minute is like an hour, right? I believe about 20 minutes elapsed, which literally felt like a day, until I heard our oldest son screaming for me somewhere nearby. My youngest had found his way back to the car. I cannot tell you the relief I had. Have you ever not been able to control your sobbing and crying? What a moment. Praise the Lord.
Fast forward to the evening when I was able to converse and talk about it without crying. My son told me that in the midst of all the running and crowds of people, he ran straight past our row and almost to the end of the parking lot. After walking down some rows of cars, he realized he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. Instead of panicking, he stopped and tuned into his senses. He remembered what part – literally the part – of the roller coaster he was looking at when we were putting sunscreen on. He knew he had to backtrack to get to that view of the roller coaster, and there he would find the truck.
And he did. Did he realize he was lost and we weren’t with him? Yes. Was he scared? A little bit – his senses were heightened and he was highly alert – he even said it was sorta exciting. Of course he did – he had his own little unplanned adventure! He was great under pressure and kept control of himself in that situation (which I applauded him for months after). When I asked him if he was worried about finding his way back, he said, “Momma, I’ll always find my way back to you.”
I debated whether to share this story due to how emotional it is for me thinking about the times he’s been lost. I literally have a pit in my stomach writing this. However it’s important to continue to bring awareness to an awesome strength of ADHD. Be it visual, auditory, smell, touch, taste, those with ADHD have heightened senses. My son is so spot on with directions because of what he sees outside and how he associates buildings, signs, houses, trees, stores and roads and connects them all together.
Which leads me to think ahead to when he drives and when your teens begin driving. It’s never too early to test your teen on their surroundings. Ask them what they see, notice, hear, smell. It will be challenging enough when they are behind the wheel. Why not engage them when you are driving now and see if they know how to get back and forth to the school, grocery, their friends’ houses? It’s a great way to gauge how in touch they are with their surroundings. Who knows, they may surprise you and find their way back home, all by themselves. Mine certainly did.
With an Abundant amount of GrADDitude for my son’s senses,