I took this silly girl to the library when she was 6 or 7, and while I chatted with the librarian, I kept noticing a light scratching sound. I thought it might be her fingers, but when I paused to look, her fingers were sly. They tucked away whatever-it-was too quickly, so when the librarian stepped away, I asked her to show me what she had in her hands. With reluctance, she opened her fingers to reveal several matches.
“Where did you find matches?“ I gasped.
“Oh, just over there by the drinking fountain.” I may never know if this is true or not, but a bigger lesson was looming.
“Eliza,“ I asked, “Are you scratching those on the counter?“
“You are pretty smart kid. What do you think might happen if you scratch a match against the counter? Do you think this would be a good place for a fire or a bad place for a fire?“
“Well, there’s a lot of paper and wood…” My eyes were bulging now. I think the veins in my neck were popping out.
“Which makes this a bad idea, right?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “The fire stations right over there, mom.” She was pointing directly toward the fire station, a block away.
This story demonstrates so many things to me, but the most striking is this: She knew the exact location of the fire station!
So many times since that day, I have come to understand that the behavior I see as impulsive and downright insane makes absolute sense to her- she has had every thought I am about to have, and maybe twenty more. ADHD kids are 10 steps ahead of us all. They are often the most perceptive, most observant kids I teach. Eliza is no exception.