I realize more and more clearly that Ingrid has more than a dash of hyperactivity in her. Not in a way that really causes problems at school or at home – but enough to occasionally be annoying and above all totally alien to me. I have a really hard time imagining what it might feel like to be her.
Any list of symptoms of hyperactivity reads like a catalogue of Ingrid’s quirks.
Inability to recognize other people’s needs and desires, emotional immaturity, interrupting other people when they’re talking. Talks excessively. Impulsive, does not think before talking, no inhibitory control. Intrudes on other people’s conversations or games. Fidgets and squirms, has difficulty sitting still. Tedium, waiting and doing nothing, even for a short while, is torture. Always on the go, cannot just “be”, cannot play quietly. Cannot handle idle time, needs to be kept busy. Cannot pay attention to a repetitive or boring activity. Starts projects but has difficulty finishing them, let alone cleaning up.
A typical slice of life that summarizes Ingrid is her afternoons after school. I used to meet her, together with Adrian, so we could walk home together. I occasionally suggested that she could walk home on her own, but she didn’t like that idea at all because walking on her own was so incredibly boring. (The walk home is all of 500 metres or just over 5 minutes.)
After a while she agreed to try it. But nowadays quite often what happens instead is that she calls me from school and asks if she can go home with a friend instead. Even after 8 hours of school and after-school care, she still hasn’t had enough, still wants more activity, company and stimulation.
She wants and needs constant activity. Often one activity is not enough. Both the body and the mind need to be occupied. While brushing her teeth she fidgets, or jumps, or fiddles with things, or looks over my shoulder at whatever I’m doing. While reading she often snacks, not because she is hungry but because she needs to chew on something – fruit, chewing gum, rice crackers, anything.
Favourite colour: blue.
Favourite food: sushi, “even better than waffles or pancakes”.
Favourite activities: playing Wii games or board games with me. Going to the movies.
Favourite words: makalös, fantastisk.