It’s kinda hard to take a kid to a doctors appointment without telling him why he’s going. Especially a bright kid. Especially a bright kid who knows he’s not sick.
That’s when we had the Ferrari Brain conversation.
We had talked to the Cheese before about his struggles concentrating. He had even sat in on the first parent/teacher conference where his inability to concentrate and focus on his school work was the main topic of conversation. So a little bit of groundwork had already been laid.
The Golfer and I weren’t looking forward to having to tell the Cheese that he needed to see a doctor about his troubles paying attention. Remember, he’s our sensitive child. He’s our worrier. He’s our child who can quickly and easily make a mountain out of a pile of LEGOS.
Luckily, I found the answer we were looking for in the book, Superparenting for ADD: An Innovative Approach to Raising Your Distracted Child by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and Peter S. Jensen, M.D. These two authors gave me the PERFECT script to follow. And I did. Almost word for word.
“Buddy, you know how we’ve been talking a lot lately about your struggles concentrating? Well, it’s because you have a Ferrari Brain. Do you know what a Ferrari is? Yeah, of course you do. You know how cool a Ferrari is. It is special and expensive and wins a lot of races. And the reason they win a lot of races is because Ferraris are really, really fast. You have a Ferrari brain that is really, really fast. Do you know how lucky you are to have a Ferrari for a brain? (The Cheese smiles as he shakes his head.) You are so, so lucky to have such a special brain!
“But the trouble is you have bicycle brakes. And your bicycle breaks aren’t strong enough to help you stop your Ferrari brain. So you have trouble slowing down when you need to and you sometimes crash even when you really don’t mean to. Does that make sense? So what we’re going to do is take you to a break specialist–a doctor down at UCLA that’s going to help you with your breaks. He just wants to visit with you. No shots. No tests. Just talking. He wants to learns about how special your Ferrari brain is. Okay?”
The Cheese smiled and told me he got it. He asked me a question or two: what’s the doctor’s name, when’s the appointment, etc. He then smiled some more, gave me the hug that I had requested before heading upstairs to play. It was clear that he LOVED the idea of having such a special brain. And in realizing this, something dawned on me. Throughout the whole school year we had been on his back: pay attention!, why aren’t you done with your homework?, are you listening?, pay attention! We had been on him, his teacher had been on him and he had clearly been feeling and internalizing the pressure more than I had realized.
I actually watched is body language relax throughout our Ferrari conversation. It was a relief for him to hear my words and now that we were telling him about his Ferrari Brain, well, it was the first time in a long time that he felt special. The first time in a while that he felt good about himself. Here we were totally stressing about having this conversation about going to the doctor, and clearly it was the conversation that our child had needed to hear.
Maybe this process is going to be easier than I thought.