The King of Multitasking

My son D. promised tonight, while looking at me sincerely and responsibly, “Yes, I’m going to finish my science homework.”

But then he started working on it while watching game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. At the same time, he was listening to YouTube through one ear bud on his iPod touch. I can understand one distraction (he is a teenager), but two? He claims he can concentrate better with several things going on.

The question is, can he spell ADHD?

Actually, he doesn’t have ADHD, but I am familiar with his multitasking skills. He’s a product of a cable-ready generation. He needs excessive stimulation in order to accomplish anything. For example, I have to tell him multiple times to empty the dishwasher and take out the recycling. Such requests rarely register the first time, usually because he’s doing several other things and my voice is mysteriously dissipated by his special mom-spam filter. So I sometimes have to repeat myself—in person, on the phone, even through sending him multiple texts if I have to. I do what I must.

I’m hoping this is just because he is a growing adolescent and his brain is not fully developed yet. According to the research, if he is an average guy, his brain won’t come into its own until age 26. This means that he’s only halfway there. I wonder if somehow he’s learned the less useful half (such as how to leave empty juice boxes in the living room, how to have missing assignments in Spanish, and how to whine when he doesn’t get what he wants). The other half, which includes understanding consequences, seeing the value of education, and developing basic compassion for humanity, must still be to come. I’m holding out hope.

To justify his strategy tonight, all he could say was, “I’m beast at multitasking.” Beast? New word.  I might have to look that up.

But then he added, “I can prove it. I remember once being at Menga’s house, listening to Crazy Frog on the CD player, building Star Wars stuff with Legos, watching TV, and waiting for my cousins to pick me up to take me to the carnival in Milford.”

That had to be at least five years ago. I don’t even remember him going to a carnival in Milford. I said, “What made you remember that?”

“Nothing. Just thinking about multitasking.”

Maybe there is hope. Maybe his ADHD tendency will be outweighed by his airtight Technicolor memory. Maybe that’s what will get him into NASA. I’ll dust off his old Legos and start him on building a space ship.