Please reassure me my 12yo will become an OK adult

(71 Posts)
Covert19 Thu 06-May-21 18:24:18

TLDR: Tell me the most pea-brained things your child did, and how they've turned out 15 years later.

This is mostly lighthearted - please no armchair diagnoses of ADHD, ASD, etc

I have a wonderful 12yo son. He's got the memory of a goldfish and the attention span of a hamster. Organisational skills are zero. Won't use a diary, despite me giving him one and showing him how to use it effectively.

He's constantly losing things at school. I've just had to fork out another £50 for lost PE kit items (I got them in the next size up, so they're effectively next year's kit and I don't feel too out of pocket).

I've had some success in getting him to remember to go to his music lessons in school by making him pay for the ones he misses (suddenly he's found the ability to check the timing and set an alarm on his phone).

Yesterday, he managed to miss his school bus home - the school is a 45 drive from home - but he realised rather than making me do a 90 minutes round trip, he could get back to our town on a mixture of Underground and overground trains. He had his bank card with him and phoned to tell me his plan. I, of course, was having kittens at the thought of him navigating his way around public transport, but he tagged along with some streetwise friends who travel on the tube to school usually, and they took him as far as the overground. He managed to get back home to our town on the train. Hooray! Except, he lost his wallet somewhere along the way. [facepalm].

This is him all over. Confident in a way, but clueless and not at all able to organise his thoughts and his belongings so that things like this don't happen. If ever I try to talk to him about something in advance - like how he can make sure he doesn't lose his wallet by keeping it zipped up in a bag and not in his hip pocket, he gets narky and won't accept that it's a possibility that he might need some help with - then it all goes wrong.

He has trouble taking responsibility for his mistakes and, I think this impedes his ability to think ahead and avoid things going wrong.

Please tell me this is normal. Please tell me about your now adult sons and daughters who were like this but grew up to be capable adults who did not go through life in a fog of lost documents and missed appointments. He's sending me prematurely grey.

OP’s posts: |
CoalCraft Thu 06-May-21 19:11:35

When I was in school I was banned from taking my jumper off cause I'd forget it every time.

Now I'm an adult I... Well actually I still forget/lose things all the time... But I'm a functional adult and a decent person I swear!

MoxFulder Thu 06-May-21 19:29:04

Sorry op...but this sounds exactly like 2 of my family members who both have ADHD. The inattentive kind, not hyperactive.

Docsmix Thu 06-May-21 19:32:13

Mine made toast, set fire to the toaster and then poured a glass of water on it to put it out. He also didn't put two and two together when the lights went out and thought we had a power cut.

Docsmix Thu 06-May-21 19:33:09

He's a responsible 18 yo now with a job and everything grin

BeastOfBODMAS Thu 06-May-21 19:34:53

Oh god yeah, my brother was like this, couldn’t organise his way out of a paper bag (6 years younger). He severely burned his hand the night before he was due to take the 11+ , placing it on the stove ring bit of the lit woodburner in a fit of absent mindedness or idiot curiosity. My mum phoned the grammar school to ask if he could delay taking the 11+ , explained why and the admissions officer was like “erm… no” 😂
He’s now a lovely, polite bloke in his early 20s with an incredible work ethic, earns more than I do self employed and manages to do his own accounts, keep a range of interesting cars and motorbikes road legal, travelled and worked abroad organising visas and qualifications, has a lovely long term girlfriend who I suspect kicks his behind when he needs it.
I think it can all change once it’s their own money and hard work lost to disorganisation and not yours!

DelurkingAJ Thu 06-May-21 19:34:54

My DM’s main reason for contact lenses at 14 for me was that I was incapable of knowing where my glasses or glasses case was, ever. Am a fully functioning adult these days 😃


SoupDragon Thu 06-May-21 19:35:10

My DSs were awful for losing stuff, missing stuff, forgetting stuff... I think university sorted them out!

NellMangled Thu 06-May-21 19:38:28

I was like this as a kid. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult (more ADD, inattentive rather than hyperactive).

I’m still essentially like this by nature but have developed lots of strategies to cope. I’m more likely to be early for appointments now, as I’m so wary of being late, and I’m a LOT better at not losing things (although still dreadful with paperwork/documents).

I’m not diagnosing your DS, though! grin. He’s 12. Plenty of 12 year olds are scatterbrains. I think by teaching him organisational strategies, regularly reminding him and sometimes letting him deal with the consequences of being disorganised or careless you’re doing an excellent job of training him up.

BabycakesMatlala Thu 06-May-21 19:39:46

I honestly don't think it sounds that normal - my 13 year old isn't like that at all, and my 10 year old, who possibly has ADHD and is a bit challenged on the executive function front, is more organised than that! I'm sure he'll be fine and turn out to be a lovely adult, but I'm not sure you're doing him favours by asking for reassurance that it's entirely normal - it might be worth looking into ADHD as a possibility, so that this isn't holding him back.

BabycakesMatlala Thu 06-May-21 19:40:52

Ps should have also said, the scaffolding and consequences you're putting in place all sound like good steps towards helping him, too.

Bogoroditse Thu 06-May-21 19:42:53

Aw, I married someone who was probably like that. Memorable early experiences with the love of my life involved him having his car in Birmingham, his phone in Newcastle and his wallet in London. Or missing the last Eurostar and turning up on my Paris doorstep in an HGV having hitched from Dover. He has many many redeeming features! He is now a highly successful company director and we are all mildly surprised... Your DS will eventually have to grow up, maybe encourage him to go travelling at 18 to force him to become a bit more responsibility?

MilduraS Thu 06-May-21 19:46:09

That sounds like my DH as both a child and an adult. He's rather successful at work and definitely wonderful enough to marry but my God, he is the most disorganised man on Earth. He once bought tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a surprise.... then forgot all about it until a week later. He's not allowed to make surprise plans anymore.

MiddleParking Thu 06-May-21 19:46:28

It’s incredibly strange, unboundaried behaviour to start armchair diagnosing the child of someone who’s specifically requested no diagnoses confused

MsAwesomeDragon Thu 06-May-21 19:51:15

You're doing all the right things. I have several kids like your DS in my form. They're pretty normal, but haven't had many consequences for messing up yet, so are taking their time learning the lesson.

If it makes you feel better, at that age I left my flute on the bus after school. We got it back from the bus company, then I did the exact same thing the following week, and again a year or so later. After the first time my mum put our contact details inside the case, and the bus company phoned us. The third time we had contact details on the outside of the case, and the bus driver handed it to me as I got on the bus the following morning blush. I am now a fully functioning adult who is allowed to be in charge of children every day. Everyone develops tricks to get organised, it's just that some people have some huge mistakes in the way, and may need some help with it. It's not easy when they resist the help though.

AlexaNeverListens Thu 06-May-21 20:03:00

He sounds exactly like my son at that age.
DS is now 17, polite, well mannered, popular and great company.
He's still so laid back he's almost horizontal, but it's honestly one of the things I love most about him.
As long as he's happy and healthy, the other stuff will fall into place.

One day.

Covert19 Thu 06-May-21 20:07:59

Thanks for all the replies, and funny (well they're funny now) stories. It's very heartwarming to hear that if he doesn't grow out of it, there is still a strong possibility somebody will put up with him enough to marry him - I don't want him to be alone in life!
As for the idea of sending him travelling at 18... I don't know if I could cope with the stress (imagining getting a call from the other side of the planet, "Mum, I've lost my passport...."). Perhaps if I send him somewhere not too far away, and very organised - like Germany - that would be bearable.

OP’s posts: |
MsAwesomeDragon Thu 06-May-21 20:12:58

I think the point about traveling being good for him is that mum can't help. You can advise but he would have to sort it out for himself.

By the way, I made that phone call aged 19. Except it wasn't quite "mum I've lost my passport" it was " mum, I'm pregnant". At least you don't have that to worry about!! If you send him traveling he's likely to lose something, but he wouldn't come home as a single mum. (It was the making of me tbh, but it felt like a disaster at the time)

CoalCraft Thu 06-May-21 20:15:16

Knowing that I would have lost my passport by day four (and probably have gotten completely lost myself) is exactly why I never tried to go backpacking... I still wouldn't risk it actually!!

I do have ways to cope with my airheadedness now I'm grown up. I mean I have a baby if my own so it's pretty much essential. If you are to look in my hand bag you'd see the letter I have to take with me to DD's next Dr's appointment... In three weeks....

Letsallscreamatthesistene Thu 06-May-21 20:16:44

I was that child! I still have moments of stunning thoughtlessness (the other day I went to take a pan from the oven with no oven mitts on - I just 'forgot' that it would be hot). I am a functioning adult with quite a responsible job though!

CurlyhairedAssassin Thu 06-May-21 20:20:24

Whatever you do, don't go down the slippery slope of trying to organise for him. You can bail him out in a one-off emergency (eg oversleeps for a GCSE exam - I woudl rush out of work for that to be honest!), but if you get in bad habits from day one of secondary school of asking him EVERY day if he has his timetable, bus money, PE kit, pencil case, house keys, water bottle etc, he'll come to rely on you being there as a prompt.

I was "cruel to be kind" with my youngest, I'm afraid. I helped him out for the first week, advised him to pack his schoolbag with the right books the night before, and told him towards the end of the week that next week, now he knew what he needed to check each day he'd have to go through the mental checklist himself. He forgot some things eg water bottle or homework or housekeys and had to deal with the consequences (thirsty and hot, and a detention for no homework, and a wait on the doorstep for his older brother to arrive home) then never forgot them again.

whereas I have friends who "baby" their child to some extent claiming "he'd forget his head if it wasn't screwed on" and they have to do everyhting for him. I don't think they help the situation to be honest =those kids are STILL disorganised.

It sounds like you're doing exactly the right things, though, and good on him for trying to get himself home. Sometimes I think it just takes a few years to accept our gentle suggestions for how they can help themselves! grin

itsgettingwierd Thu 06-May-21 20:25:18

What does TLDR mean?

FTEngineerM Thu 06-May-21 20:31:41

This was my DP 2 decades ago, have I entered a time warp.

I didn’t know him then of course but he does shit like this now and it pisses me right off, his mother is like it too.

Never check anything, ever. So income the phones calls drawing in help from all around like I have lost my wallet/can you go over mine and check the door is locked/I need you to pick me up/I spelt your email wrong for your gift card.

I’m not talking about the odd momentary lapse of judgment, it’s all.the.time.

Now I just leave them to it. I don’t go rummaging for his wallet. I don’t panic when the gift/money is sent to the wrong place I just let them take their time figuring it out, an extra few seconds could save you hours in fixing it. I just don’t get it.

Certainly not uncommon OP.

NoSquirrels Thu 06-May-21 20:31:44

This is him all over. Confident in a way, but clueless and not at all able to organise his thoughts and his belongings so that things like this don't happen. If ever I try to talk to him about something in advance - like how he can make sure he doesn't lose his wallet by keeping it zipped up in a bag and not in his hip pocket, he gets narky and won't accept that it's a possibility that he might need some help with - then it all goes wrong.

Uh huh. Nowt so sure as a preteen being advised by a parent.

He has trouble taking responsibility for his mistakes and, I think this impedes his ability to think ahead and avoid things going wrong.

Mine’s like this too.

On the subject of organisation I can’t tell you the amount of times my siblings and I have lost wallets, misplaced keys, got on the wrong trains to places, failed to check important signage leading to interesting issues and generally fucked up a bit. I couldn’t find my house keys this morning, in fact, and was 15 minutes late to work because of it (no way to lock the front door behind me, and for 12 months + there’s ALWAYS been someone in the house!) But I am highly organised at work and run multiple projects, my sister is a highly qualified hospital doctor and may either out-earns the both of us (and still can’t remember anyone’s birthday or remember to charge his mobile). My parents largely let us make our own mistakes and good-humouredly tolerated some ineptness unless actively dangerous or inconvenient.

I think that your DS made it back on a route he’s unfamiliar with, independently, with multiple forms of transport, is a win. Celebrate that and just support him in sorting out the inevitable lost wallet fiasco.

FTEngineerM Thu 06-May-21 20:32:01


What does TLDR mean?

Too long didn’t read @itsgettingwierd

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