Intensity. The title of the first book I ever read by Dean Koontz. And the story matched the title. But that’s not the intensity to which I refer in this blog.
In case I never mentioned this before, I have three grandsons. Oh, I did mention that? Sorry. Anyway, the three of them are very different. Little man Andre is spoiled, and even though he rarely gets his way by doing so, he still screams us into insanity on a regular basis, hoping against hope that this time we will let him have his way. Philip, my middle man, has a sweet personality, but he has this extremely annoying habit of talking to himself, non-stop, and mostly gibberish. Nate, the first man, is a study all to himself. And he is the subject I wish to address for the rest of our time together.
Nate is 11 years old. When he was born, he was born with a “sad” soul. I’m not kidding. As an infant, we would take him to church. It didn’t take many notes into the organ music before his little self was crying. I had mixed feelings about that—at once I thought it funny, a bit embarrassing (that he cried over the musician’s playing), and disconcerting. Deep inside, I had this foreboding that his reaction had something to do with his personality makeup, and somewhere down the road, it wasn’t going to be “good.” Well, friends and neighbors, that day has come. Actually, it’s been heading in this direction for a while, but last week it became clear it was time to get some help for this kid.
Right off, let me make something clear here. I don’t like the fact that so many parents put their kids into therapy these days. I don’t like the fact that adults get their own lives so screwed up that it messes up their kids, who end up needing that therapy. I don’t like the idea of a child being diagnosed and “labeled.” I don’t like any of that. But more than that, I have spent lots of sleepless moments wondering at what point a child that I love will get desperate enough to try to hurt himself or someone else.
Nate is angry. He feels cheated that he has to share the grownups in his life with his brothers. He’s angry that he isn’t as close to his brothers as they are to each other. He feels abandoned by a deadbeat dad who shows up for a month every other year or so, making big promises he never keeps and then who disappears back into his hole for another couple of years. Yeah, I know. Tell him to get over himself; get a grip; just grow up. Actually, that is what we are telling him–with the help of someone who can help us help him, and who can help him learn to deal with his depression and his moods.
I know a lot about the nature of Nate. The reason I know is because he shares a lot of the personality traits that I had as a child. He’s the first born. He’s smart. He’s independent-natured. He thinks he knows the better way to do a thing, over suggestions offered by just about anyone. Okay, okay, by anyone at all. He is very intense. He gets focused on something—anything—and off he goes. Many times, he walks into a room and states that he is going to do thus and such and launches into a dialog about how he will accomplish this goal. No matter what the topic, the game, the event—he has to be in charge of what is going on. I get that. It’s a control thing. He feels out of control of his life, and because he is intelligent, he is hard-pressed to understand why he has to let anyone be in “charge” of him. For me, being in charge was how I controlled the chaos around me as a child. I tell you the truth, it doesn’t win friends on a regular basis. The only trait we don’t share is depression, which I’ve never experienced on long-term basis. I can mostly talk myself out of depression. Some folks aren’t as fortunate as that.
When you put all these traits into one body, you end up with a potentially irritating personality. I don’t need to remind you how much I love this boy, do I? He’s my heart-child. But his personality, combined with the anger that he carries around inside of him, could be bad news. It is most certainly maddening to try to sympathize with, that is for sure.
Anyway, I get this kid. But what’s going on inside of him is something we have to deal with–either now through therapy, or later through some other means. I vote for now.