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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Superstore that Tried to Eat my Saturday

Saturday morning, almost a month after starting ADHD medication, was time for my first prescription refill. I drove to our local Meijer superstore, enjoying the warm sun and fall colors.  My wife, Chris, had stayed home with our 8 and 5 years old boys, both with ADHD. She had a long to-do list, but would spend most of her time corralling their energy. “Please don’t spend all day there,” she had implored when she handed me a list of the 3 things we needed there.
Escaped! How lucky to be away from the chaos at home.
I parked and walked into the giant warehouse. Superstore entrances are overwhelming for most of us with ADHD.
Everything in the store is potentially interesting and is calling me to come check it out!
The pharmacy was at the very back of the store, but where else did I need to stop? Chris had given me the list.  Where was it? Oddly, it was where it belonged—in my pocket.
This is a first. I can’t believe I've actually got the list with me. It’s not in the car or at home.
I headed toward the back of the store, walking past tempting displays, just as the retail designers had planned. Happily for me, this included camping gear. I love camping—even the idea of it. I looked down the camping aisle, expecting that the trip would now turn interesting, but the only thought that crossed my mind was that I already owned at least one of everything in the aisle, so didn't need to go down it.
This is different. Since when do I give myself practical advice? That’s Chris’ job, not mine.
Bewildered, I walked past the camping equipment.
No problem. Something in here will be interesting. It’s a big store.
The same thing happened in automotive, home improvement and electronics. Nothing was necessary and nothing seemed interesting.
Two minutes—not two hours—after entering the store, I stood at the pharmacy counter picking up my prescription.
Camping StoreSeveral minutes later the other items from the list were in the cart. I hadn’t bothered to browse any more aisles. My Hummer-sized shopping cart held 3 small items that collectively wouldn’t fill a lunch bag. I pulled up to the check-out counter. “Is that all?” asked the clerk.  Sheepishly, I nodded.
I checked my watch. Ten minutes.  I was leaving a superstore after ten minutes, because I was done, and the rest was  boring.
Oh, no! It’s the medicine. ADHD medication makes life boring!
My heart fell. I had truly enjoyed the improved productivity of my first month on medication, but had just realized the price I would be paying. The chatter in my active mind was quieter. Perfunctory shopping would now be efficient, but boring.
My mind was still. I felt almost a little lonely.
And then, an idea hit me so forcefully that it felt like God might have said it. Saturday morning, in the checkout line at Meijer, a life-changing realization interrupted the self-pity:
You’re in Meijer, doofus. Of course this is boring. Go home. FAMILY is interesting!
The words in my head didn't sound like Morgan Freeman, and God probably doesn't call people ‘doofus’. Maybe I added that self-deprecating slant as I archived the powerful intuition in my memory bank. But the advice was so counter to the way I had lived for forty years that it seemed like a wisdom from outside myself.
For forty years, I had wasted hours making boring tasks interesting, not because that was the best way I had found to handle boredom, but because it was the only way I had found. The antidote for 10 minutes of boring shopping no longer needed to be two hours of unnecessary project-shopping. Not when a family I loved wanted me to share Saturday with them.
As I carried my single shopping bag to the car, I looked in the direction I would be driving. Several minutes away was my home. I imagined it vibrant and full of life, and wanted to be there.
The Mason guys. Chris took this photo on the day of this story.
The Mason guys. Chris took this picture on the day of this story.
MY FAMILY is interesting! Chris is beautiful and I love being with her. The boys are energetic and creative and they need me. I’m missing their Saturday. I want to be there. I need to go home…
“I can’t believe you’re home so fast,” said Chris when I walked into the kitchen. She kissed me as if I was home from a month overseas.  (Definitely NOT boring!) “I didn't expect you home for a couple more hours.” She was happy.
Instead of wandering the sale aisles, I took Ben and Paul outside where we raked leaves into jumping piles. Medication, it turned out, helped me make more time for what was truly interesting. It didn't help me care more, but the people I loved felt like it did.
See more at Attentionality!

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