Sometimes I feel that my son is an accident waiting to happen.
I’m weeding the vegetable garden one sweltering August day when Eric, my five-year old son, runs into the street and narrowly misses being hit by a car—for the second time that day.
Dropping the hoe, I sprint towards my son as adrenaline surges through my body. The garden, a ten-by-ten plot filled with ground hugging carrots and radishes in the front and tall, sprawling tomato and pepper plants in the back, is located about fifty feet from road. Since there’s no fence separating the yard from the avenue, I am always on alert, constantly monitoring Eric’s location.
Eric remains standing in the street, seemingly unaware of the danger he faces. Reaching the road, I grab Eric’s hand and pull him to the sidewalk.
“How many times do I have to tell you to stay out of the road?” I say sharply, panting from exertion.
Eric grins at me, his brown eyes twinkling impishly. Clearly, he has no understanding of the danger that his behavior presents. I clutch Eric’s wrist tightly as I lead him back to the garden. With my left hand grasping Eric firmly, I lean over to yank a fist-sized, ruby tomato with my right. Then I march Eric back to the edge of the road, stop, and hurl the tomato into the street.
“That’s what you’ll look like if you get hit by a car,” I say to Eric, pointing to the tomato’s gory red guts splattered on the black asphalt.
Eric‘s lower lip starts to quiver as he studies the crimson mess on the avenue. When he bursts into tears, I pick him up and hold him tightly.
“I’m sorry I had to scare you,” I say, rocking him back and forth gently. “I love you so much. You're irreplaceable. I couldn’t bear for something bad to happen to you."
Some may think I overreacted in this situation, but unfortunately, scary accidents were the rule with Eric, not the exception. Impulsive and inquisitive, he seemed to have no idea that his reckless behavior was dangerous, despite our numerous visits to the emergency room to patch him up.
Although I had long suspected that Eric had ADHD, it would take another accident a year later, when he nearly lost the sight in his right eye, for me to seek the advice of a pediatrician, who diagnosed him with ADHD.
If I’d known back then that individuals with ADHD were twice as likely to injure themselves and die at a younger age due to accidents, I would have acted sooner. I wrote Desperately Seeking Novelty to help other parents understand how to manage their wild child’s behavior.