Part 1: A little ADHD-sufferer

Written by Bert Plomp

In my youth, I often had to rely entirely on myself. At a very young age, I had to fend for myself. My parents were simply too busy with other matters. As I grew older, I developed an attitude of “I can handle it on my own.” Initially, I didn’t feel very comfortable with this approach, but later, it led to me getting along quite well with myself.

When you go through life so independently after many years of clashes with others, it can cause irritations here and there. Irritations, especially among individuals who expect more respect, among those who hide within a group, and among those who are themselves insecure. It is not surprising, therefore, that I had regular conflicts with such individuals in school, during my short military service, and in my work.

Nevertheless, I believe I conduct myself reasonably well in social situations, or at least that’s the impression I have. I enjoy being around friends, being with people who know me well and therefore don’t really mind my occasional sharp remarks, which I always tend to downplay.

Based on my mother’s comments, I must have been a very active and nervous child: a kind of ‘ADHD sufferer.’ Because this condition had not yet been diagnosed during my childhood, I did not receive the special attention that such patients receive today. In fact, it gave my parents a reason to banish me from home and hearth for eight weeks each summer, for three consecutive summers, to a so-called holiday colony. I think a more appropriate term for such a institution is a disciplinary colony, a kind of correctional facility for young children. An institute that had nothing to do with a vacation for a child.

During my three years in the colony, I developed a strong aversion to authority, to authority in general, and to anything in a uniform.

As far as I can remember my early childhood, I was a fairly calm little boy. A boy who liked to explore and preferred to go his own way. What’s wrong with that, you might ask. Well, when I was 4 years old, for example, it almost led to my head being crushed between the revolving doors of Hotel Smits, a well-known hotel on Vredenburg in the center of Utrecht. It’s thanks to my hard head that I’m still able to write about this incident.

In those days, my parents were in charge of the Salvation Army’s Utrecht division. It was not their top priority to pay much attention to their own children. For the work of the Salvation Army, everything else had to take a back seat. Helping other people and children always came first. Under these circumstances, I was banished to a remote corner of the country, a godforsaken holiday colony, for three consecutive summers, as the only one of the children.

At the age of 4, I was simply dropped off at a health center at the beginning of the summer of 1952. This center was located on Kruisstraat in Utrecht, across from the RHBS. Equipped with a suitcase of clothing, I had to board a special bus there, a bus that would transport me and several other children to a holiday colony in Egmond aan Zee. The week before departure, my mother had embroidered my name on all my clothes.

These so-called holiday trips were primarily intended for children with weak health, for children who could regain their strength in the fresh air at the holiday destination. Perhaps there were children in my three groups who were genuinely unhealthy. In my case, there was absolutely no such issue. My parents just wanted to get rid of me for a while because they were too busy with Salvation Army affairs. Photos from that time also show me in robust health.

Well, perhaps I did have a bit of ‘ADHD’ at the time. However, I wasn’t bothered by it, but it seemed to bother my parents. There is no doubt that my parents were doing wonderful work for their fellow human beings, but it required so much of their time and attention that there was no room left for that busy little boy. Therefore, their son had to go and seek ‘salvation’ in a holiday colony by the coast, under the care of stern matronly figures in starched white aprons.


For all episodes, click on: Holiday colonies

For more free stories join my Facebook page: