Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Flair for the Dramatic

Oh, the drama.

Every, and I do mean every, parent of a child with ADHD is very familiar with drama. There's the we're-leaving-the-house-right-now-and-I-can't-find-my-shoes drama. There's the I'm-so-tired-I-can't-do-homework-but-I-could-easily-build-a-3-story-castle-with-Legos(tm) drama.

There's drama over wanting a playdate, or an ice cream, or a hug after you've done something you shouldn't have.

There's the drama of thinking you are too cool for school or at least too cool for parents.

Really, there is drama for every situation.

Thankfully for ADHD moms, the drama is not limited to our "highly spirited" children. To every childhood, a little (or a lot of) drama must reign.

But in a new turn of event, for once, I am encouraging the drama.

It's Camp Drama.

Okay, that's not really the name of the camp. In fact, the first appearance of this welcome drama isn't even at a drama camp. It's at Dylan's annual, ordinary camp, where he gets to choose activities for each of the two sessions of camp.

In the first session, he had karate, science, and water play. This time around, though, it's baseball, math, and ... dut da da da ... drama!

I've been encouraging him to get involved in drama for a while now. In addition to his natural proclivity towards drama, Dylan is also painfully shy. Not when you know him - he'll talk your ear off then. But if he doesn't know you, he's practically mute. 

At my office, in the elevators, he hides behind me.  At 10.

If I'm lucky, when meeting someone new, he'll mumble "Hi" before running somewhere or hiding under a table.

So, I'm hopeful that drama will give him a way to overcome his shyness.

If he can get used to putting someone else's words in his mouth, perhaps he can put some of mine in there when he is in a situation where he has met someone. We've discussed various phrases:

"Pleased to meet you."

"Nice to meet you."

"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

Okay, that last one sounds a little dated, but it was in an old movie we watched and he liked it and started saying it over and over again. I'm still waiting for him to actually use it on a real, live person.

After his normal camp, he will attend a performing arts camp, where I hope he'll really get into drama during the three weeks he's there. 

I can say that so far he really likes it. He's been begging me to go over his lines with him. It's a short script - just one page typed - about two kids at a movie. He's been working hard to give feeling to his words.

That's another part I hope helps.  Giving him words to use. When he's angry, so often it's just reaction, not description. I try to encourage him to talk about what he's feeling, what's wrong, why he's angry, but a lot of times, it's just noise or anger, not something I can use to help.

Will four weeks make a big difference? I don't know. Dylan's school has a "Talented in Theater" program, but not only do you have to audition to get in, he already misses most of his "flex time" classes to finish work he doesn't complete in class. I don't want to get him into something he doesn't actually get to go to. At one time, the school had a drama club. it seemed to go away, but it would be great if it came back...if it didn't interfere with homework.

I tell him all the time that he doesn't have to tell someone his life story; he just needs to be friendly and nice when he meets them. We all need to learn this at some point; it's just a little more challenging for introverts. Thankfully, we are not alone.  Here's a list of shy celebrities and other famous people:

Introversion is also getting a bit of love from author and speaker Susan Cain, who talks about how the current practice of grouping kids in classrooms can be challenging for introverts.  Here's her TED talk.

I'll report back at the end of the summer on how all that drama unfolds. And let me know if you've tried drama to overcome shyness and anger, or have you found other ways to deal with them.

Shakespeare, look out! We're gettin' dramatic!

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