Thursday, November 10, 2011
I'm not sad, I'm angry, he replied.
What are you angry about?
He caught my eye in the rear view mirror, to be sure I was listening. Then he said, I'm not angry about anything. I'm just angry.
Ever the social worker, I empathized, telling him that sometimes I feel angry too. I said that there are things I like to do to feel better when I'm in a bad mood, like have some quiet time or listen to music.
I don't like to do those kind of things to feel better.
At this point you may be wondering why I persisted in the conversation, but I can be slow that way. I kept on firing away, asking what kind of things do you like to do?
Flying in a real, superfast airplane.
Riding in a motorcycle. Hang gliding. Being a knight.
Before we arrived home, we'd made a plan. We would create Gabriel's Happy Things Book, each page of which would be dedicated to one of the activities he had shared. He could cut out images, draw pictures, or otherwise represent each of his happy things. Because for Gabriel, thinking about and drawing himself doing amazing things is almost as good, if not better, than doing the actual amazing things. He loves to pretend, and at some level he recognizes that out in the real world being three and hang gliding don't mix. Creating sports- and transportation-related art is a lot safer. One isn't limited by lack of skill or experience, or the laws of nature for that matter. And revisiting drawings and collages fires Gabriel's imagination nearly as much as creating them does. So our hope was that both making and later reading this book would lead to a whole lot of happiness.
Frances volunteered an empty binder she wasn't using, and this morning we typed and printed all the happy things. Then we snipped them and Gabriel glued one to each page. We found images in the Sunday paper, and he drew pictures for the football and riding-in-a-superfast-airplane page. The remaining pages await future moments of inspiration. (Just in case you'd like to know, the happy things I have yet to mention are playing in a real basketball game and getting a basket in a real grownup basketball hoop, racing on a racetrack in a race car, playing in a real soccer game, riding on a two seat bicycle, boys doing ballet, winning a tennis game, sledding, riding on a tugboat, being a pirate, and riding in a horse-drawn carriage).
In 'real life,' I don't think Gabriel is ever happier than when he is at home with his family. In this picture we were playing a little game called woop-woop-woop that is not worth trying to explain, but as you might imagine it is very silly. I wish you could have heard him choking on his own laughter and watched his little body run wildly between us! How to draw him a picture of that safety and joy--that deep happiness--that I hope he will carry forever in his growing body and heart and soul?