Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sitting Still

My nephew's wife has informed me that this is Special Education Week. Seeing as I come from a long line of people with ADD, I have a bit to say on that subject. Now, I want you to know, that in my day, ADD was spelled differently: BAD, and only boys were allowed to be bad.

The problem for people with ADD is that they can't do or think any one thing at a time. Talking with them is a lesson in scatter-shot conversing. I've taken to having sticky notes with me as I converse with any fellow scatter-shot speaker. Just as I learned to do in board meetings with a facilitator, I jot down what my friend, Mountaintop Mary, calls "bunny trails" and agree to table those discussions for later.

I once tutored for a second-grade literacy program. The little boy I was teaching just couldn't sit still without completely shutting down. It was only after I found a rocking chair and obtained permission for him to rock and read that he began to get with the program. He became a star student.I only wish I had known this trick when my children were students.

It seems that we spend most of a child's developing life punishing them for moving around, and the rest of their lives wondering why they're so out of shape. The fidgeting of other people makes us nervous, so we seek to stop it at all costs. The more I have to make myself sit at the computer, which is the only way I'll ever reach my publishing and writing goals, the more I realize all the things we do to burn off our nervous energy. Some of those things are obvious, like running, sports, and dancing. Others are not so obvious, and can be performed right at one's desk.

Smoking, eating and drinking used to be allowed in adult workplaces, but not in this day of air quality control and sensitive desktop electronics. We were broken of the gum-chewing habit by our grade school teachers. A lot of people try to control what my daughter refers to as "buzzing" with various drugs, both legal and otherwise. Many prefer alcohol.

The home-employed are not limited in what methods they employ, but there are only so many one can do while sitting. Food makes a body fat, alcohol makes a brain fuzzy, and what I know about medicating what our psychologist friend called "the wooglies" in his son seems to only work for so long before the doses have to be increased. This leaves movement.

I'm almost sixty years old and female, and I still can't sit still. Many executive chairs come with rocking and rolling mechanisms, both ways to discretely fidget. I have one of these. I can freely rock, roll, drum my fingers, tap my feet, whistle, hum, go back and forth to email and Facebook, and take bathroom, snack, and beverage breaks. Yet we think that a bursting ball of energy like a six year old should be able to sit silently for hours on end. What's wrong with that picture?

Maybe some of our educational dollars should be spent on rocking chairs.