A common recommendation that I make on behalf of the students I diagnose with ADHD is to seat them in front of the teacher.

I mean, who wouldn’t think of that? A kid who has attention problems? Where else would you put him or her?

Although most teachers figure this out on their own, the number of times it doesn’t happen is surprising.

“Next to the fish tank”, “In the back”, “Next to the open door” are the seat locations that I hear about  with alarming frequency.

Today I thought to myself, “Why would a teacher do that?” I’ve had this thought before but this time I really thought about the answer.

“Hmm, if I sat a kid next to the fish tank, he might just zone out on the fist right next to him rather than repeatedly getting out of his seat to walk to the fish tank.”

“Hmm, if I sat a kid with ADHD right in front of me, I might be distracted when I am trying to teach.”

Sometimes we move problems away from “front and center” because it is more convenient, at least in the short term. In the case of these students, the short term solution may leave them better entertained and thus less disrupted. But in the long term, they are also less well educated.

A major challenge to a happy life is to know when to move challenges to front and center and to know when they are best left in the periphery.

Last Friday, I hosted a lovely dinner party for friends, most of them new. One was a new “3 D” friend, someone with whom I have been friends via cyberspace but not in close proximity. (Read about it here.) At a certain point of the evening, we noticed that one of our six month old kittens, Basie, was missing. Since our house has been “Party City” since early September, the kittens have had lots of experience with visitors to the house. And they have taken strangers in stride, not hiding away like some cats are prone to do. So I was very worried. Our kittens have never been outside but I suspected that Basie had gotten outside. We live near a busy street. We also live in a neighborhood with many raccoons, who have been known to hurt or kill cats and small dogs. Not to mention the occasional coyote that sometimes graces our urban landscape.

In the back of my mind, as the hours ticked by, I was fairly convinced that there was a very good chance that Basie was dead. And his sister and litter mate, Leeloo was acting distressed without him.  It was already dark out. How does one find a black kitten in the dark? It’s not easy, let me tell you. I could tell that during the dinner party, John was going outside with a flashlight from time to time. And when he returned, I did a couple of outside rounds of “Here, kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty!” No response.

So I returned to my dinner party and did my best to keep my worry in the background. The party came to a close and I went to bed, with only one of our awesome kittens in bed with us. But again, I knew that worrying about it wouldn’t help. I just needed to do my best to sleep.

At 1 am: “Meow meow meow meow meow” we hear on our deck. Basie had come back! What a relief! Oh Basie, please no more adventures!

But I was so glad that I did not put my worry front and center when I had a dinner party and very little I could do about a jet black kitten lost in the night.

It is so difficult to know, at times, what thoughts, feelings, or experiences need to be at the “front and center”. Sometimes it is now, sometimes it is the past, and sometimes it is the future that needs to be there. And then it can change again in a second.

It’s a wonder we don’t all have psychological whiplash.