Tick Tock Kill the Clock


And now you see my problem.

Or do you?

I guess you’d better sit down because I have a small confession to make.

You may have noticed a little ADHD or OCD behavior from me now and then. Not enough to annoy you or to affect my own quality of life.

So maybe I blitz-clean my house once in a while, just from boredom. And my clothes hang in the closet color-coded. And I have to line my throw rugs up with the tile grout, counting the tiles off each side to the wall in order to confirm that the rug is, indeed, exactly centered.

Mildly entertaining I suppose.


I’m driving down the road, taking a son or two to school, and a bus passes by. In it’s back window are the numbers 12456.

An identification number.

No big deal.

But I am actually discombobulated in my head.

Why? They left out the 3! Who does that?

It would cost them next to nothing to just throw the missing number in there and call it good.

Does another bus have just the 3 in it’s window? Was it stolen just to annoy other drivers on the road?

I pointed out this obvious random thought to the boys and discovered that they, too, thought something was rotten in Denmark.

That’s when I decided to tell them just how far my poor compulsive and obsessive brain takes me when I don’t hold it firmly in line. (A nice, straight, tidy line.)

“Do you ever drive by the gas station and notice the prices listed for gas?”

“Sometimes,” replies a son almost old enough to drive.

“Well, I begin with the lowest number displayed and hop between the rest, trying to make a royal flush. It’s okay if they start with a 3, so long as I can find a 4, 5, 6, and 7. If I can’t, I drive by feeling like the planets aren’t quite aligned.”

“Hm,” he replies, already thinking a hundred other thoughts. At once.

“Yeah, we drive by in what, 10 seconds? And my brain is already deciding if today is a good day based on the random numbers at a gas station. Stupid.”

“I do that with my alarm clock at night,” he suddenly reveals.


“Once I stayed awake all night waiting for the time to read 12:34. I couldn’t fall asleep because the red glowing numbers were staring at me across the bedroom.”

“You poor kid.”

“It was exciting at 12:32. I knew it was changing in a minute and I didn’t want to blink or fall asleep and miss it. I waited and waited and I saw the very second it changed to the right numbers. Then I could go to sleep.”

I am so sorry.

This thing should be my own personal curse. I never meant to pass it on to the kids.

I’m getting an analog clock for the boys’ bedroom.

But it has to be one that doesn’t make a “tick tock” sound.

I have to twitch my fingers together or tap them in cadence with that.

We’ll never get to sleep.

Which made me remember something from my childhood.

Sleep-overs at Grandma’s.

My grandmother is a collector par excellence.

Sleepovers meant lying under the stare of a hundred dolls’ eyes from a glass cabinet and silently counting her piles of Beany Bears.

You’d get up the next morning to help her dust the house spotless.

Most of all, though, it meant getting used to her clock collection.

There were clocks on every wall in every room and each of them created a unique noise.

“Tick tock” from the silver cowboy belt buckle clock was small potatoes.

The cuckoo clock sang and exploded into “Der Froehliche Wanderer” (Happy Wanderer) on the hour, complete with little dancing yodelers in lederhosen.

She had a bird clock that, depending on which hour it pointed to, taught you each bird’s particular warble.

It didn’t have a cuckoo.

We were grateful for the small things.

The grandfather clock bonged out the quarter hours and partial hymn verses of the Westminster Chimes, then put them all together in a solemn hourly anthem.

Striking midnight took two hours.

A creepy cat clock swung his tail and shifted his eyes every second.

I think it was flirting with the giant Mickey Mouse phone, but it was hard to tell.

Mickey was smiling.

My family tree came by this honestly, I guess.

That doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

ADHD for the Gold

Next year my youngest son will begin high school. It signals a fresh start in academics, athletics and social connections. He will be joining his older brother there and frankly, there is only one thing on my mind.


I have been waiting patiently his whole little life for this moment in time. My long-legged long-winded child caused many moments of long-suffering over the years, but it’s about to all pay off.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure…and so we plan to take this kid’s ADHD and cash in.

We never had a teacher call him out on his excitability. His report card notes include “A joy to have in class” right next to “Needs to work on focus.” They are always torn: yes, he speaks out before raising his hand, but also he sits in front and is actually happy to be there.

He was never actually “diagnosed”. I think a growing boy is naturally full of jumping beans.

This one just came with extras, is all.

He can control them if he limits his sweet tooth. We don’t keep sodas, chips, candy, etc stocked in the kitchen. We stick to meat and potatoes with occasional sides of pintos and whatever a family of seven can afford that doesn’t include Pop Tarts.

However, there is never a lack of sweets and artificial substances when you’re a man about town. He can swap for them during school lunchtime or chow down during a church potluck or casually join in the Cola Brigade at a friend’s house.

We never made a big deal out of it for fear it would actually become a big deal.

But surely there is a time to educate a child on his strengths and weaknesses.

“Son, you can’t eat a huge piece of chocolate layer cake right before church and expect to stay in your seat for the next hour. It’s not physically possible. I know little Billy can, but your body is unique and that’s how it responds when you eat certain things. Pay attention. Your teacher called me in to discuss your complete abandon of focus during her social studies class. That class is right after lunch. What are you packing in your lunch?”

Only four packs of gummy fruit snacks, a fist full of tortilla chips, juice boxes, and a chocolate chip granola bar.

“Where are the yogurt, cheese, sandwich, peanut butter and veggie bits?”

“Mom, nobody will trade for those.”

He was on a road trip with a favorite aunt. She gave him a generous bag of Doritos.

Ten minutes later, she pulled into a rest stop and waited while he ran laps around the facilities for a half hour until they wore off.

I say things to him like, “What in the world was that all about?

What did you eat?


Did you actually just drink a Mountain Dew?!”

“Mom,” he says, shaking his head sadly, “I just do what the soda tells me to.”

Well, we are done fighting it. Done. We are about to turn a weak spot into his secret weapon.

He will finally be joining his big brother’s high school cross country team. His big brother runs like a well oiled machine. He runs with his head. He uses strategy and training and discipline.

But this other kid of mine…he runs like a wild animal. He has something that simply picks him up and flings him forward into the universe. It may not be pretty, it may not be kosher, and there will be many people watching and just shaking their heads over it…but now this kid has a secret accelerator.

The Olympic judges a few years from now will demand drug testing.

The other runners will insist they smell something fishy.

Or is it cheesy?

The results will come in….

“Sir, there appears to be extremely high levels of…Doritos dust…in his system.”

No laws against that, eh?