Thursday, July 29, 2010

Birth of a Writer

Last week my whippersnapper threw the penultimate of all fits. He kicked, he screamed, he threw his body on the floor in anguish, he pretended to choke, he threatened to puke, he sassed us, he screamed "No!", and he hit himself, beating his own little legs. He was totally out of control--absolutely Mel Gibson style. It was heartbreaking to watch the rage and frustration in that little body.

We calmly sat by him through it-- we were long past the stage when bribery, threats, time-outs, or stern talkings-to would work. I'd gone through everything I had in my fit-combat arsenal. I had no parenting tricks left (not like I have a lot to begin with) and all I could do was look at him strangely and hope he wore himself out.

And then it hit me.

The frustration this kid had was the same I've felt in life, and my blood ran cold. Clearly it was genetic. Clearly he'd observed me in action. Clearly this was all my fault, and I'd be doomed to watch this tiny boy go through all the craziness I've gone through.

Mes amies, I was witnessing the birth of a writer.

He's too young to know it yet, but I feel it must be so. All that angst and existentialism and horror and hysteria will, someday, be rolled into a story.

I sort of hope not. Not that I wouldn't want him to experience the joy of creating and telling a story, but I also think there's a dark side to it sometimes. Many of us have demons that we beat or not, and they drive our need to articulate our struggles through stories. It might be one reason why writers have often also experienced depression. My most favorite writer, Marian Keyes, has been unable to write a book for a year because she's been waylaid by a severe depression. It's no joking matter.

At the very least, I like to tell myself that this passionate little boy is incredibly smart because he continually pushes boundaries with us -- and man is it work trying to combat that. Really most unpleasant. At the very least, he is smart and he's growing. I suppose we all do this (although honestly, Mr. Sierra and I do not remember pulling these screaming fits when we were his age). I guess my only hope is that whatever art form this "expression" takes later on as he tries to make sense of his own feelings, he does not use his mother as a subject of angry work, be it words or paint or music. (But I kind of hope words.)


Anne R. Allen said...

Wow. I didn't know that about Marian Keyes. My favorite, too. She writes such positive, funny books.

I love your analogy of temper tantrums/writers' demons. I do think writers are motivated by powerful emotions like anger and frustration. Otherwise, why not go sit in the sun or hang with your friends instead of spending every spare hour doing this stuff?

I had a nephew who used to stage grand, theatrical tantrums like that. One time when his father demanded he stop crying and say what he wanted, the little guy wailed "I DON'T KNOW!"

Now he's in his teens and--you guessed it--he's already a fantastic writer.

JEM said...

Can I ask what the fit was about? Because that sounds extreeeeeme.

Linda G. said...

Hang in there. Someday a wonderful vocabulary will replace those tantrums...and then you're really in trouble. ;)

Suzi McGowen said...

My son went through that. To some extent he still has that frustration and just doesn't know what to do with it. (He's 16 now.)

I can't decide if it's writer's demons (certainly he's been creating stories since he was very small), or because he's so smart and his brain outstrips his body's ability to do things, or if it's the ADHD. Or maybe a combination of things!

I know that those tempers are common to all three realms.

I can only offer support. Like you, I ran out of parents tricks a long time ago. The only thing I can do is recognize the warning signs and help him recognize the warning signs. Like most things, it's easier to deal with before it gets out of hand :)

(If I can catch it early enough, I have him turn his shirt around so that he's wearing it backwards. That stops it every time :)

Sierra Godfrey said...

It's funny because he threw another tantrum last night, too. He's almost 4 so I think he just doesn't know how to handle himself yet. He was SO ANGRY when we refused to engage, and never calmed down until I went in and held him.

The cause of the fits? Being made to take his bath when he wanted to play. It sort of dominoed after that, with other little things. I am guessing that he a) hasn't yet learned that crying and screaming gets him nothing, and b) has not yet learned an alternative to having a fit.

Thanks for the support guys.

Anonymous said...

It's like reading about my 4yo. He hits his legs too. I have four ages 7 and under, and he is the first to do this. It is very hard. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Also.... I love this design and your web page design!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Oh. my. God.

NOW, I can't wait until I become a mom.


(I haven't given you nearly enought blog-love lately. So, here's some: MWAH! I adore my Sierra Mist.)

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