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Vail Valley column: Find discipline in your mind

Jill Marchione Papangelis
Family Matters
Vail, CO Colorado

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately looking at Attention Deficit Disorder. My son, who injured himself in a snowboarding accident last January, had a serious concussion and, we’ve been told, has been left with some sort of residual ADD. On the other hand, I have been left with some sort of clinical fear of snowboarding in general, or letting my kids participate in any sport other than swimming or tennis. Can you get a concussion playing tennis?

In his freshman year, my son loved literature, read the classics, and maintained a 4.0 GPA.- Now, when I ask him about a book he’s reading, the conversation sounds more like this

“Huh?”

“The book you’re reading, how is it?”

“Wow, it’s snowing.”

“Yes, but about your book.”

“Right, it’s about the French Revolution.”

“Oh, nice, do you like it?”

“France, it’s in France.”

“Yeah, I get that.”

“Mom, wanna get some French fries?”

“Wait, we were talking about your book.”

“Don’t you love the snow?”

Anyone have any Ritalin?

Having three boys, I learned to roll with the punches (injuries) early on. I was sure I would be reported to child protective services since it seemed one of my boys was in the emergency room once a month with some injury or other – broken bones, torn cartilage and ligaments, you name it.

When the E.R. staff knows your kids by name, you know they’re too active. My daughter hasn’t had the best luck either, falling on the stairs and biting her tongue nearly in half when she was just 2 – later having her finger severed in a friend’s car (the doctors were able to sew it back on, but she had her middle finger bandaged for months in a tight splint, giving “the finger” to anyone she encountered – charming).

Head injuries are different though – frighteningly so. My son never experienced any symptoms of ADD prior to his injury, but after really researching the symptoms, the fact he hadn’t experienced them before was what was unusual. It seems his head injury knocked something around that the rest of our society is already afflicted with.

Wikipedia defines ADD as inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, forgetfulness and fatigue. I now realize perhaps every person I know, including myself and even my bulldog, has some form of ADD. Is it something in the water?

We all seem to be rushing around the planet with hectic agendas while all the experts keep advising us to slow down. But is slowing down really an option? Perhaps we just need to get better at going fast.

I know the likelihood that my life will become less frenzied over the next several years is miniscule. So I can either be the kind of person who runs on two speeds, frantic and nearly frantic, or I can implement some little changes so that I can become a connoisseur of keeping up.

As much as I always tell myself how free-spirited and spontaneous my life is, I think this is a fantasy like the one where I have the body of a supermodel and the brain of the guy in “Good Will Hunting.” Accepting my life of routine and forcing myself to be on a schedule has really helped me make room for the spur-of-the-moment things I look forward to. For me, staying organized and not relying on feelings is key.

I rarely feel like getting up early and doing my workout. I rarely feel like passing on the chips and salsa, or addressing the baskets of laundry; but if I do these tasks religiously, the benefits to me physically and mentally are enormous.

Proper discipline for all the necessities really does help me enjoy life and sleep better at night. Although I do spend an ungodly amount of time worrying about my kids, Iran, and my dog’s allergies as I’m closing my eyes, I can rest better knowing that my attention is not in deficit and I won’t awake to an endless to-do list the next morning. Resist ADD and you might have time to stop and smell the roses (pine trees).

Jill Marchione Papangelis is a freelance writer and mother of four. -She lives in Edwards with her family. -Send column suggestions or comments to-jillscolumn@gmail.com.


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