“That dog has cat ears,” my son, Nicholas, then four, observed outside the supermarket one afternoon. Sure enough, the dog had triangular, upright ears, like Garfield, and not oval, floppy ears, like Goofy. That’s when I knew my son had inherited my, er, affliction. I hope he will use it for good, and not evil.
See, I have ADHCIT: Attention Deficit — How Cool is That? It’s something that can either fuel creativity or land you in after- school detention. It has spawned novelists, artists, musicians, comedians, video game producers, bloggers, inventors, entrepreneurs, Bill Gates and stars of the stage and screen. But it has also created a fair share of 29-year-olds sleeping on their parents’ couches at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. The trick is to corral it, focus it, wrestle it into something useful, and, preferably, money-making. But that’s not so easy.
Part of what makes it hard is that creativity is dying, and we are killing it. Last week, Newsweek reported the decline in creativity among today’s children: “Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class.”
Creativity class? Our kids don’t need a class to teach them creativity. They just need to be kids. But with the increased emphasis on improving science and math scores, the stripping of art class from many school curricula (my sons get one quarter of art per year in middle school) and the over-scheduling and micromanaging of our kids, it’s no wonder that so few children are are creative these days. They’re waiting for someone to hold up a flash card and plan out their playdates.
Then there’s the rejection that comes with creativity. It’s one thing to have your budget plan criticized and quite another to have the memoir about the most vulnerable time of your life lambasted on Amazon. It’s like that line from the movie, This is Spinal Tap: “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever.” Sometimes, you don’t find out until after you’ve hit “Post” or “Send” or “Print” which side of the line you’ve fallen on.
But if you have ADHCIT, you have to try anyway, so I do. And ever since he spotted cat ears on a dog, so does my son. We have to. It’s part of the affliction, and we are trying to use it for good.
This summer, (when I’m not running outside to take pictures of a HUGE orange spider that the kids have discovered) I have been working on a memoir about my year with cancer tentatively entitled, If Cancer is a Gift, Where Can I Return it? One Mom’s Year with the Worst Disease You Can Get. I’m writing it because I want to share my story so that parents with cancer feel less alone.
But I’m also writing it because I have to, need to.. because I have ADHCIT. I’m not sure which side of the stupid/clever line it will fall on when I finish it, but I’m certain of one thing: In my house, creativity not only isn’t dying, it’s thriving.
(And sadly, so is that big, scary spider outside my window.)
Share, share: Does your family have ADHCIT? Tell us.