Camping Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

So we went camping.  We do this a lot – it’s the only vacation that fits my husband’s boundaries of not flying/not sleeping in an unfamiliar bed/not spending much money.  Fortunately, I enjoy camping, so it works out.

(Muffy quickly silences the whining voices threatening to erupt from her depths, wailing things like, “But HAWAIIIIIIIII…..”, because, no, really, I like camping.  But, also, Hawaii. But we don’t need to whine, dear.)

Funny thing, on this camping trip, since my daughter is now an official Adult, and since it is a well-documented fact that she has ADHD, I noticed some things for the first time.

You see, back when she was diagnosed, her reaction was, “This explains so MUCH!  Mom, how did you LIVE with me when I was little?” To which I shrugged and had to admit that I kind of enjoyed the adventure in it.  Because she was little and cute and whimsical and it was fun trying to keep up with her.

It’s not so much fun when the person is an adult.006


(That may very well be the Understatement of the Year.)

But see, with my daughter, it’s still not so hard now, because I’m used to her being that way.  She just lives in Petunia-Land. We’ve all come to accept that over the years, and when Petunia-Land collides with Reality, we just sigh and shake our heads and say, “Oh, Petunia,” and help her pick up the pieces.

(Her name is not really Petunia, you understand, but somehow it fits.  Maybe I should have named her that.)

At any rate, there were quite a few Petunia Moments on the camping trip.  In the past, I haven’t noticed them, because she was younger and I just naturally took care of things for her along with the rest of the family. This was the first year she came with her own car and her own stuff, as well as bringing to the table her own opinions and plans as to what we should do while we were camping.  It was wonderful to have another adult along for the ride.  And yet…

There were those Petunia Moments, and a few sighed “Oh Petunias,” and I suddenly realized that these “oops, forgot to take that into consideration” or “oh, did you already tell me that?” or “sorry, I guess I wasn’t listening” or “just a minute, I have to do it this way, don’t interrupt me or I’ll get it wrong” Moments were incredibly familiar.

It was her father all over again.  Years of camping history suddenly rewrote itself and I was able to clearly see how much angst had been caused not through him being a bad person, or inconsiderate, or spiteful, or any other thing that could make a vacation miserable, but simply by him being ADD.

(Yes, I know I’m supposed to call it ADHD, but there is absolutely NOTHING hyperactive about my husband and saying “Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder – Non-Hyperactive” is FAR too unwieldy for me to even consider using on a regular basis.  So, taking my cue from Algebra, I simply cancel out the positive and negative Hs, which leaves us with ADD.)

He covers it up better than she does, so it’s not as obvious.  And being his wife and “help meet,” I naturally compensate when he drops the ball and don’t think much about it…

Except I do.  I think about it a lot.  I just didn’t realize how much of It was actually just plain old ADD.

In fact, as the days of this trip passed, I observed and thought and smiled and sighed and came to the conclusion that this big nebulous Monster of Issues against which I constantly fight is probably nothing more than two things – one is ADD, and the other is a propensity for fear.

In fact, I’m pretty sure the ADD has contributed to the fear, because if a person never feels like he really understands what is going on, because he’s constantly missing events, information and social cues, it would stand to reason that he would develop an aversion to change and The Unknown.

So with this understanding, this camping trip was different.  Better.  Less heart-wrenching and scary.

And yet…

Honestly, understanding it helps.  It does.  But it doesn’t take away the heart-wrenching and scary.  It just lessens it down to a Known Quantity.  The unknown quality of the matter has dissipated, but the disappointing quality has not.

And yes, I feel like a heel for even mentioning it, because as hard as it is to do life with someone who may or may not actually BE there at any given moment, it has to be so incredibly hard to have to live like that.

My husband has coped by simply refusing to notice it.  In his mind (his own version of Petunia Land), everything is just fine and it’s somewhat annoying that everyone else doesn’t understand this. He has literally made a career out of not noticing his own issues. (Okay, no, it’s not literal.  It has nothing to do with his career.  But it doesn’t scan well to use the word “figuratively” there.)

At any rate, life is hard for him, he won’t admit it and seek help, and like the idiot-with-the-high-IQ I am, I have enabled him for over two decades to live this way.  And this is why I mention how hard it is to be married to someone struggling with this deficit.  Well, that and because this is my blog <stamps foot>.

So while I do enjoy camping, I always look forward to the trips with slightly gritted teeth. I always thought it was because of the prep work the week before, as well as the Horrible First Night’s Sleep coupled with the pain of the Second Day Breakthrough Into Relaxation. And yes, that’s probably part of it.

But this time I saw how much extra compensation I have to do on a vacation; reassuring, cajoling, quietly making sure all the bases are covered, picking up dropped pieces without calling attention to them, keeping my cool when I’m overtired and already juggling many Camping Balls and suddenly have to pick up a couple more, because we’re on vacation and it’s supposed to be happy and it must stay fun for the kids and I don’t want to emasculate or disgrace their father in front of them…

So there is a small part of me… okay, no, who’s kidding here… there is a large part of me that can’t help but wonder what camping is like for normal people.

Muffy Goes Camping With Normal People

Then again, I’m not completely convinced that I’m normal either, so I don’t suppose I would find out the answer to this even if I were to find some normal people who would camp with me.

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