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My friend Heidi


ow me to give you a glimpse into my sanctuary as an ADHD child. I was fortunate enough to have wonderful parents who indulged me in my imagination and showered me in books. So here goes...

We had two books with Heidi's story: the first, a beautiful modern book, which my grandmother used to read to me. The second was a picture book, which my mom received at school as a prize, when she was 10 years old. These two books played a major role in my childhood - something I only recently realised. Here is the story of how I made my first ADHD-friendly friend.

The Japanese Anime Heidi series was dubbed into Afrikaans, and once we got television and a VHS machine (the black tapes we used before DVDs and Netflix), I was obsessed with it. I watched it over and over and over - and my parents and granny let me. I also cried my eyes out when Heidi lost the white bread rolls that she had stocked up for Peter's blind grandma. (This only happened once, because my dad figured out how to tape over already-recorded footage, and showed my mom how to effectively "cut" that episode.) Now I own the box set, so that I can have a complete narrative again.

The point of this blog post? Even though Heidi was a mere fictional character in a children's book written in 1881, she was the first "person" I identified with. And, looking back now as an adult, I think I understand why.

Heidi was a highly energetic little girl who asked questions about everything - to the point that she annoyed even poor Peter (who had his fair share of issues - probably dyslexic as he did badly at school, and Heidi often had to help him with reading. He was considered “slow” by the other children of Dörfli). She asked questions about the things that nobody dared even speak about. And probably the strongest emotional connection was the fact that Heidi had BIG emotions. She was ecstatically happy to go to the fields with Peter, and beyond tears when she could not take granny some nice soft rolls - which she sneaked into her room when she was sent to live in Frankfurt as a companion for Clara. She had the same trouble adapting to new environments that I had, and always thought she did something wrong when things went south - even when it was clearly not her fault. Birds fly south when the winter comes and "Piep" did not leave her because she did something bad. This broke her heart until her grandfather explained that he would come back in the spring.

There is a good chance that I learned how to make friends from Heidi, and there are probably a few quirks that are part of my personality which could also be attributed to her.

So, there you have it: my first ADHD friend was a character in a book.

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