On the console beside her seat in the van are two library books she needs to return. Both are overdue.
Anthony, 6, dressed in his nicely pressed uniform blue shirt and gray pants on this crisp early fall day, smiles at her as he climbs into the car seat behind his 3-year-old brother, Christopher. Anthony chatters nonstop about the art project he did, what he ate for lunch and how he had a “green” day. For him, having a green day is about as difficult as getting to places on time is for his mother. A green day means he didn’t interrupt the teacher, pester his classmates, jump up from his seat, fidget, forget to turn in his homework, space out wondering about the clouds out the window or stare at the blank paper on his desk that is supposed to be filling up with classwork.
Suppers, 30, pulls out of the parking lot and begins to explain that Anthony has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
“Mommy,” Anthony chirps from the back of the van.
That, though he’s smart, he has a tough time sitting still, getting going on things that bore him, such as homework, and that he is easily distracted or frustrated in school.
“Mommy,” Anthony persists.
And how, the more she learns about his ADHD, the more she wonders —
— if she has it herself.
Without waiting for an answer, Anthony insists they drive by a house that had burned down as a reward for having a green day. Suppers nods. Puts a movie into the van’s DVD player and asks both boys to put their headphones on. She feels bad that the kids watch so much TV in the car, but it’s the only way she can drive with them. It took one fender bender — slamming into the car in front of her in stop-and-go traffic when she’d turned around to answer a question — to realize that she couldn’t afford to be distracted behind the wheel. Before kids, she’d had her share of speeding and red light camera tickets. “It’s so stressful when I drive if there’s any noise,” she says.
Since Suppers quit a job a few months ago that she loved but felt she couldn’t manage along with the house and the kids, she is also bracing herself for what is now her most stressful time of day: managing to keep their two dogs outside and Christopher downstairs in the playroom so the living room will be quiet. That’s where she helps Anthony, sitting at a bright yellow plastic desk, with the homework that is always a fight to get him to do.