Friday, May 12, 2006
What Else Hurts?
Over the last couple of weeks — as things have gotten harder and harder — Sweet M has been making some drawings that are very telling.
She made this pencil drawing one Saturday afternoon after she'd been watching cartoons because her father and I were each buried in other concerns.
When he saw this drawing, he said, "Wow, bunny, that's a great drawing." Shortly thereafter she crumbled it up and threw it away, which is why it's all wrinkled. He retrieved it so we could think about it, and ask her about it. Our conversation went like this . . .
Me: These people look sad. Why are they sad?
Her: Because they are waiting for a contract.
Me: What will happen when the contract comes?
Her: The building will blow down.
Me: Why do you think the building will blow down?
Her: I don't want to talk about it.
Obviously I'm not an art therapist or we would have gotten farther.
The sunshine is happy enough, but check out the ferocious cloud, blowing on the flames coming out of the chimney. The contract is the rectangle between the weathervane and the chimney. And look at all of those sad people. And the sad dog. The only happy creature in this picture is the smiling cat in the bottom right hand window — famous, as cats are, for their ability to thrive on their own. And while all the other figures are sad, only the little girl on the left is crying. (If you click on the image, it will pop-up as a bigger picture that's easier to see.)
The background to her drawing is that I have been in negotiations on a consulting contract for almost 3 months, and it has created some financial tensions that we have been waiting for this to come in. I've turned down all kinds of other projects as I'd agreed to take on this consulting project, we've been just hanging on by a thread as the negotiations drag on.
One of the institutions involved in the negotiations is a major cultural institution in the city, and they have all the time in the world. They have third century BCE cuneiform tablets in their collections, and it sometimes seems that they'd be willing to wait several millennia to close a deal and cut a deposit check.
I don't know what Sweet M thinks about the contract — I was stunned that she was even aware that there is a contract in negotiation — but she seems to think that it will rock her world in all of the wrong ways, when in fact it should make all of our lives much easier.
She could also be picking up on the anxieties of our neighbor, who very anxiously shared the information that a giant apartment tower may be under consideration for the two lots next to where we live, so our apartment may lose all of its light and its one Manhattan canyon view. Apparently an international real estate development corporation, owned by the privately held Carlyle Group, has their eye on the properties adjacent to where we live.
And then there is the fact that the playground across the street from our home is now torn up, under renovation in a long overdue process that won't be completed until September 2007.
Finally, of course, there is the fact that we often lose sight of — that Sweet M saw the twin towers collapse twelve blocks from here.
In her world, buildings do get blown down.
The more colorful marker pen drawing was made on the day of her school music and art show. Normally she is very much a ham . . . belting out the musical numbers with her class. But this year she stood behind her teacher and refused to sing. Then she didn't want to show off her art. And her father did not show up at the performance or art show.
She did not want to be in the noisy, bustling crowd of parents and kids, so we went up to the quiet of her classroom and made drawings while we waited for the art show to end and for the teachers to come back. She drew the house first, then the clouds, then the sunshine, then the family on the right. In the middle of drawing the family on the right, she said, "Nope, wrong." and crossed it out. Then she drew the idealized family on the left. Then she drew the spiral, and crossed it out.
The next day, a family friend who is a therapist asked Sweet M to tell her about the spiral in the drawing. M said, "It's a wormhole." My friend asked, "Wow, it's a great wormhole. Can you tell me about wormholes?" And Sweet M said, "They suck up everything."
What else hurts?
It hurts when you can't seem to make your family, your neighborhood — your world — work well enough to make your child feel safe, secure, protected.
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • special education • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) • parenting • family life
Posted by MothersVox at 5/12/2006 12:27:00 PM