There’s a unique sitcom TV show currently playing, called “Modern Family”.
I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the show is an amazing success, given that one of the creators is Christopher Lloyd. Still, it surprised me.
Each week, we follow at least different story threads, burped across our screens by the patriarch and his robbed-cradle bride (and her son from a previous marriage); his gay son and his very large lover (the latter of whom wears his overly large heart on his sleeve – you can’t help but appreciate him); and his daughter, her goofy husband and their three kids. There things I like about it, are: 1) that it tries very hard to avoid clichés; and 2) that it beautifully portrays the heart and soul of a truly loving extended family. The guys in the crowd who are reading this need not run away at this point: this is no chick flick. There’s enough comedy to keep everyone happy, but the thing is: there are no cynical conclusions being reached here, as is the case with so many TV shows and movies.
The impulse to write this blog tonight, and specifically about this program, comes from a PVR viewing of the show this evening. Fortunately, there is a variety of TV shows which, because of their exceptional quality, have found a place on my permanent-record list, and this – Modern Family – is one of them. I say “fortunate” because I’ve been on a work trip to Ottawa this week and so wasn’t around to enjoy these shows. So I watched some tonight.
This particular episode of Modern Family had one story thread that riveted my wayward attention to the screen for the duration: it concerned the goofy father and his equally scattered young son. One of his daughters – the very bright one, named Alex – mentioned in passing that perhaps Luke – the son – might have ADHD. Luke objects “I do not! What’s ADHD?”
Alex replies “I’d tell you but….” and at that point Luke wanders away, and she finishes with “you’d leave before I got to the ‘H'”
The more I saw of this story thread, the more I realized a couple of things. First, that it got the symptoms of ADHD down exactly right. They didn’t use Alex just to preach to us what those were; instead we got to see it acted out by the father and son, each oblivious to the typical ADHD actions of the other. The mother was exasperated and was at her wit’s end with her son’s complete lack of focus, so we saw the father attempt to oversee his son as he worked on a school project that was due the next day.
The father had to go down to the garage to get something (I honestly forget what it was, and attribute that lack of detail to my own problems with focus), and as he stepped into the room, he got distracted by an overhead light that was flickering. So he got up and opened up the light fixture to see what was wrong with the bulb, when he realized, from that new height, that he had found his sunglasses, which were dangerously perched on the top of a shelf. As we see him lose the focus for the flickering light and latch on to the sunglasses, we hear Alex talking through some of the ADHD symptoms with her mother while the father acts them out. And we see the light of realization dawn in the mother’s eyes at the same time. Alex mentions that one of the symptoms involve ADHD folk getting into accidents, while we see Phil (the husband) put a bench down and put a chair on top of it, just so that he can climb up to get the sunglasses on the top of the shelf. Then we see him fall, just as Alex finishes listing the ADHD symptoms. Clair (the mother) rushes out to the garage to see if he’s OK (he is).
I was simply amazed at all of this. Which brings me to the second realization: I have done all of this! All of it. I’ve put myself in danger to fulfill an immediate impulse like fixing something high up and using precariously-placed chairs and tables to do so. I have had immediate goals, only to have them immediately supplanted with new goals as other items come into focus, with the end result being that I’ll end up at the end of the day doing something completely divorced and disconnected from my original goal. Many of the goals I hit upon during that day never actually get completed.
I can go into the bedroom for a pair of socks and end up being late for an appointment because I got involved with a photo album I hadn’t seen in ages.
This frustrates others in my life to a high degree. People who think I’m just being rude or inconsiderate. One friend read me the riot act, because she was so hurt that I was always late whenever we decided to get together. She told me that from here on in, if I didn’t arrive on time when we were to get together, she would leave. To be fair, she had a problem with others in her life who did the same thing and she was certain they just didn’t value her enough.
It’s not that I’m inconsiderate or wrapped up in myself. Let me tell you what it is though:
These baubles, these shiny thoughts and interruptions hit people like me with their immediacy. Knowing my propensity for losing focus has meant that I worry that some important things won’t get done. Hence, the habit of putting myself in physical danger in order to fulfill the impulse *now*, before it has a chance to run away from me.
I also talk very fast sometimes, and people have to tell me to slow down. I now realize: it’s because of the thunderous crowd of thoughts that I want to make sure and touch on, and I’m worried I’ll lose them before getting a chance to say them.
Some of us use lists to make sure stuff gets done. I use my iPhone and make sure everything that is critical gets scheduled. This works to a degree because each important item is attached to multiple alarms. And really, what better way to gain focus on the important stuff than to have a jingly little bell taking your focus and forcefully and repeatedly reminding you?
“Ding! Ding” (Oh. Time to get ready for the next meeting. Wait. There’s that email I was looking for. And there it is right there – he *did* say he would take on that responsibility. Maybe I’d better send it to him just to remind him. And….wait. Is that the new meeting notice I’ve been waiting for? Wow. I wondered——)
“I said DING DING, BITCH!” (Right. Get to the meeting)
(Ok that was a joke, but maybe I should design an actual ring tone that says that. Maybe I can find one that’s already on the net somewhere…and….)
*waves single finger in front of my eyes* FOOOOCUS.
Maybe you have these symptoms. Or maybe there’s someone in your life who drives you just to the edge of insane, and you know if he or she misses one more appointment, or falls and hurts him or herself one more time, you’ll go over the edge.
Anyway – it’s something to think about.
(I hope that TV show wins an award or something)