Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Attention Getter

I've noticed a thread running through some of Aidan's less endearing behaviors, and I'm trying to desconstruct it's meaning.

It came to me when we were on the phone with Granny to wish her a happy Mother's Day. At first Aidan was excited to talk with her, and he managed to ask her some questions and have some happy exchanges ("How do dragons breathe fire?") But after a while my mom and I started talking about boring adult stuff, and I could tell that Aidan was having a hard time sitting through it.

Kids being bored with adult talk is nothing surprising. But what if that were the case, I would expect him to wander off, or pick up a toy and begin to play with it, or something else that amused him. But it wasn't simply boredom; he was bursting at the seams to break into the conversation and talk, even when it was clear that he hadn't even formulated something to say. And when he had run out of things to say, he kept trying to get my attention, jumping on me and waving things in my face and trying wrestle me, all while I'm on the phone.

Then it occurred to me that I've had the same experience before, when I was on the phone with someone. Or when someone is sitting in the living room talking to me . . . or even when I'm paying attention to his brother Malcolm.

There seems to be something utterly unbearable to him when, for whatever reason, it is clear that someone else is commanding exclusive attention in a situation. It isn't merely a desire for attention; it's the desire that I not pointedly pay attention to someone else while he's in the room.

It sounds so awfully self-centered when I say it that way, and I don't think he comes across that way . . . it's not like he's constantly saying, "Hey, I'm great." But he is making these routine gambits to steal the spotlight. It's as if he needs to test his ability to regain our attention.

Again, which I could understand, if he felt starved for attention. But this is a kid who gets lots of one-on-one attention. It isn't merely a deficit needing to be filled. There is something else going on, and I can't figure out what it is.


Post a Comment

<< Home