Thursday 3 January 2019

J.R.R. Tolkien and our ADHD son

I love the Hobbit.  First time I read it I was nine years old.  It inspired most of my reading.  I loved many things about it. The battle of good and evil, the adventure, the underdog finding themselves.  Anthony turned 10 last year and he's no where near reading such a book.  When he watched Lord of the Rings over Christmas, I understood a bit more about why.

I did pick up The Lord of the Rings when I was 11 but I found it difficult to read.  As my Dad said when I spoke to him, 'it has more adult language'. I became a bit bored (sorry Tolkien fans) with the long descriptive paragraphs that I only appreciated years later.  The solution back then was to watch the animated version of the saga - which was originally released in 1978. I watched it and enjoyed it.  Even the animation of The Lord of the Rings was much darker than The Hobbit book I had read and enjoyed.

Anthony may not have been able to read The Hobbit, but he loved the recent movies.  Me too. And I was all to pleased to watch The Lord of the Rings Movies with him.  Admittedly there are a lot of characters to keep track of, and a few story lines.  He wasn't helped by the fact that Sauron and Saruman sound similar and so kept getting the 'evil baddie' and 'turncoat wizard' confused.

He did get bored through some of the longer dialogues, but we persisted as he loved the exciting scenes so much.  We'd pause and ask some questions to try and help him remain on top of the plot. Even if nothing else to help identify the 'goodies' and 'baddies' where needed. He found the creature Golem particularly confusing as the movie of course portrays him talking to himself - at one point Anthony thought there were two of them in the story.

At the end when Frodo (spoiler alert) has finally finished his task.  The ring is gone and he and Sam are stuck on the rock surrounded by molten lava (when Anthony also said they would have melted due to the high heat of the lava).  Released from the burden and fog of the ring, Frodo can finally remember who he is... and he says, "I can see it Sam.  I can see the Shire."  The Shire, the place Sam has been going on about for most of the movie.  The home he is longing to return to.  The 'Shire' music starts up and we all understand that feeling of 'home'.

Then Anthony peeps up, "What's the Shire.  Is that the evil baddie?"

Classic Anthony.

"Seriously?" I said, trying not to despair.

Then he asked if it was the turncoat Wizard (Saruman), then one of the other hobbits (whose names he was also unable to remember).

Honestly.  We'd been watching the blasted amazing films for 10+ hours.

The odd thing, or not of course if your child has ADHD and is like ours, is that he was able to tell us in quite some detail parts of the movie he had been interested in.  The fight scenes mostly, and could rein-act quite a few parts of the story that he found interesting. This is part of him.  Some would say it's part of being a boy. But Anthony is much more than that. And the worst part is sometimes that he is so disappointed in himself for not being able to pay attention, for not knowing what is going on.

I worry that he's missing out on the real joy of things.  He may enjoy the battle scenes but it always seems to me that they are worth watching because of what they mean. And that's why watching the dialogue is important.

Enjoying it in his own way is still important and he shows us this by his dramatic reinactments where he not only obviously understands what's happening in a battle but why one person wins over another.  His horror of the general loss of life and even that of Faramir nearly being burner alive by his father is truly endearing.

The upside of course is that without the movie there would have been no chance at all of Anthony enjoying Tolkien's work, even if it is only in a movie form. And I'm grateful for that as he certainly did enjoy it.


  1. I am glad you can find the gratitude in what he is able to enjoy, and that you can share in that experience. It must be tough knowing he can not read it the way you did, and get that joy from it. My brother loved the books when he was young, I never read them I think I saw one movie. I have always thought to go back and look at them as an adult, but am yet to do so. My nephew was obsessed with the movies when he was around 10 but got nightmares from them, he is a very anxious child and even now at 18 struggles with anxiety and his epilepsy. Thank you for sharing this post #ABloggingGoodTime

  2. It is great that he enjoyed the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings so much - these do wonders for the imagination. I also tried to read the books when I was younger but found them a bit too long.

  3. I am so glad he enjoyed these movies! It is still so good for the imagination, movie or book. #KCACOLS

  4. I have to admit I've never seen or even read the Hobbit. I've seen the LOTR films many times and I am so pleased that you were able to enjoy them together xxx #KCACOLS

  5. Great that he managed to enjoy it, the films are quite long though aren't they? I remember attempting to read The Hobbit when I was in Junior School and none of it sunk in! Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

  6. I'm glad he enjoyed it, even if it was difficult at times. They are long films. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

  7. I think I must be in the minority as I never enjoyed The Hobbit or The Lord Of The Rings. I don't think I ever had the patience to get into them. I'm pleased your son enjoyed it though. Thanks for sharing with #TriumphantTales.

  8. Lovely that you can enjoy the films together. I was slightly traumatised by the illustrated version of the hobbit as a kid - I have spider issues. I can see my boys really enjoying it when they get older. Might get my husband to read the spider sections!! #SpectrumSunday


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