When we adopted Grant he was already 9 nine years old. We hadn’t had him for 9 days when I realized I had adopted the only Tasmanian Devil from Siberia. Grant never went to school, he lived in a village in Siberia and pretty much had always done what he wanted, when he wanted. This meant that he was used to bouncing around like a ping pong ball at every hour of the day AND night.
The overactive Grant hit the limit at about month three into the adoption. It was Christmas break. All the kids were home all day. In Florida, that means playing outside. Grant was out of control. My kids weren’t the only ones complaining. He was driving the whole neighborhood crazy. And so the day came when he hit the captain of our high school football team (our neighbor) in the face with a broom (he was 3 times the size of Grant). When you get a call that your son is being abusive from the mother of a defensive lineman you can’t ignore that you have a serious problem.
I told Grant to get my bike out, I hopped on and yelled over my shoulder, “Come with me, Grant.” He happily ran after me and we continued for about half a mile when he said (and I wish you could hear it in his little Russian accent), “Mom, what are we doing?” I then explained to him that from this day forward whenever he did something wrong he had to run around the block (half a mile). I then told him that he had 7 blocks to run for all the misdemeanors so far that day. “Ok”, he said, “what is this block for?” I replied, “This block, this one is for knocking your sister over.” And around and around we went…He never stopped chattering for 3.5 miles. He hopped on and off the curb, he leaped over puddles, he jumped to swat tree branches. He wasn’t even remotely out of breath. He was only nine. After that he ran almost every day. In fact, there was a day when he ran a total of 18 miles in a 24 hour period. I know, crazy.
Months later, it was a week before the Gasparilla 15k (an annual race in Tampa) I got an idea. I asked a friend I knew running the race if he would let Grant pace behind him. He was fascinated with the idea and agreed. At mile 8 my friend, Al, amazed that Grant did not even seem winded cut him loose. He pointed to the finish ahead and said, “Run, Grant, run!” Grant bolted for an entire mile and won the race for his age group.
Learning to deal with Grant and his limitless energy has been one of my greater parenting challenges. In school and out, it is also a challenge for Grant. But then there are places he shines because of his energy, such as cutting up fallen trees for a week after a hurricane and on 3 day Boy Scout hikes in the wilderness.
I often got frustrated with Grant and, poor thing, he got frustrated with himself. So we came up with 5 ways to help him sit still.
One final note about Grant, eventually he ran so much he stopped liking it. So switch it up or your kids might get bored. And, exercise isn’t a solution for every overactive or ADHD child but it’s worth trying and will help.