Note to reader: The letter below is from my hyper son, Charlie, who is featured in my book. He is now grown and has a PhD… and four active children of his own.
“So who is Tommy?,” you might be wondering. You’ll meet Tommy in Chapter One of the book—but maybe you already know a “Tommy.”
Maybe you have a Tommy, or a Tomi. Children like Tommy are everywhere.
Charlie wrote the following letter to all mommies of “Tommy” or “Tomi.” I hope you’ll be encouraged as you read his take on his hyper childhood from the perspective of being an adult now. Enjoy!
Chapter 33 – Charlie’s Letter to You
You’ve just read my mom’s story about life with a hyperactive child and how she coped. Well, my name is Charlie, and since these stories were about me, after reading these stories, you’re probably wondering about my opinion of my childhood! The short answer is that for me, it was a time of wonder and discovery, and I’m now grateful for all the effort my mom put into raising me.
Perhaps you have a child that currently is wearing you out or has you feeling like an inadequate parent. Although he or she may not say it now, allow me to say the words that they are not able to express: Thank you! Thank you for all of your unrelenting effort, love, and patience.
I really appreciate that my mom understood and supported my need to be energetic. As my mom said, energy is like water behind a dam. Reservoir water is used constructively to generate electricity, but that same water becomes destructive if the dam breaks. With that concept in mind, she helped me learn to harness my energy toward building things up, not tearing them down. My mom provided ways to use my energy constructively through active play, such as marching to music inside the house or splashing in the backyard pool. My mom understood that I needed to have constructive outlets for my energy, just as long as the outlet did not involve a sibling falling to the ground.
The impulse to trip my siblings was obviously a destructive aspect of my hyperactivity. Mom tried to teach me, but my impulsiveness was deeply ingrained. Even when I was in college, I remember sitting in the hallway eating lunch with my sister (because cafeteria seating was maxed out) while students walked by between classes. I asked Joy if she had the same problem that I had, where I had to keep telling myself not to stick out my leg to trip one of the unsuspecting students. Although this demonstrates that I had indeed mastered the art of directing my energy, it also shows that some elements of hyperactive wiring die hard.
One of the frustrations you may have is that your child does not pay attention, listen, or focus. You have read about my lack of focus. I would look at my mother’s eyes but not listen to what she said, much to her dismay. Yet from my perspective (and my mom would agree now), I would say that I actually focused really well! It’s just that my focus was not on the same things my parents wanted me to focus on. Instead of listening to my mom’s instructions for chores, I would be thinking about how to build Legos. However, this same focus, when directed toward things in my older years, such as grad school and work, has been a huge strength. So just remember that the aspects of your child that seem like hardships may turn out to be a gift in the long run.
Another aspect from my perspective was that, as a child, life seemed normal. Although my mom felt many days were utter chaos, from my vantage point, everything was fine and life was great. Just like my mom mentioned, when we threw a special “King Party” for dad, what seemed like a disaster to her was a highlight of the year for me. Put in broader terms, what may seem like exhausting and draining years with a toddler or preschooler will likely seem like years of wonder, love, and excitement through your child’s eyes.
Another thing that I want to tell you, and that I’m sure you are desperately wanting to hear, is that it is worth it. My mom’s patience and love now mean the world to me. There’s no one else that I would want as my mother, and I am forever grateful for her years of loving and raising me. She continues to be one of the people that I admire most, and I always know that she loves me with all her heart.
So I will say once more to all the moms of active children who are giving your child so much, “Thank you!”
Wishing you the best,
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Read additional chapter excerpts at:
Look Inside – Intro, Chapter 1, Chapter 2
Chapter 9 – Every Child Has a Gift
Chapter 13 – Fearing the Worst
Chapter 27 – Routine Expectations
Chapter 33 – Charlie’s Letter to You