Nick said that today. Just up and said it. What struck me was not the I really like guns part. (I am already tormented with that, but don’t get me started.) What stuck me was the for some odd reason.
Lately Nick has been thinking about himself. He hasn’t found a lot of reasons for why he is the way he is, but he’s been cogitating on it. And his articulation of the self-scrutiny is new. I’m taking it as a hopeful sign of brain development.
I’m told that different brain parts develop at different rates. Nick, for example, is a whiz at weaponry. A week ago in art class he produced the above sword drawing. On the other hand, he didn’t talk until his fourth year, and even that took some professional help. Then there’s the little oddities his brain seems full of, the mood shifts, the way he sometimes spaces out and is completely gone, his lack of ability to deal with frustration, and so on.
If you’re a parent taking an honest look at the situation of kids between the ages of two and seven, you’d have to conclude that, generally, they’re completely nuts. I’m talking meltdowns over broken cookies, attempted murder of the cat, and the like.
In response to the situation, there are industries of “helpers” who categorize nutty children and try to fix them. But sometimes kids need fixing, and sometimes they don’t. How do you tell the difference?
In the monsoon of self-doubt that is parenthood, brain parts develop at different rates has a calming effect on me. I apply it liberally. A further trick, a wise friend once told Nora and me, is to enlist the developed parts of the brain in service of the undeveloped parts. Most kids, for example, love stories. Nick has loved them since infancy. He’s pretty developed there. So we give him stories. Stories about himself, stories about us. We encourage his narratives. Usually, as today, we have no idea what we’re doing. When in doubt, go with a story is the motto.
“Yes, it is very curious,” I said to Nick, when he made his remark about really liking guns.
That’s all I said. He nodded gravely and thought some more.