Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Too Good of a Friend?

So, as I've chronicled before, N has this wonderful friend who he calls WeeyumWise. Full name, all the time. They are inseparable. And that was fine, when WeeyumWise was going to preschool full time, just like N. But now, he's not, because I helped convince his mom to quit her job. I'm a fool. Not really. His mom is worlds happier. But my boy? Not happier.

N isn't much like his sister. Where you could question her and get not only a straight answer but one that went deeper than the original question, even at the age of four, with N you sometimes don't even get an answer that has anything to do with your question. And when you do, it's not always truthful.

So I wasn't much worried when he would report, every Monday and Friday this past month, that he didn't play with any of his friends, or that he only played with Baaa, Baby Baaaa, This, That, Little Bit and Silly (who are his imaginary friends--and that's only a partial list). He wasn't crying when I dropped him off those days, and when I picked him up he didn't look like he'd spent the whole day crying or moping or anything. But then, last Friday morning, I found out from one of his teachers that he'd been spending long periods of time with his little body stuffed into his tiny cubby, sucking his thumb, on any day that Weeyum wasn't there. And that, when approached, he would respond to offers to play with a teacher or one of the other kids with, "No, danks. I'm waiting to go home."

X-rays have since confirmed that that statement alone completely broke my heart.

It turned out he had a better day that Friday, playing with one of the teachers, and occasionally with one of his non-Weeyum friends. So I figured things had turned around. They hadn't. Monday was just as bad, apparently. He and I had a long talk on the way to school this morning. Actually, it was a short talk followed by a bit of role-playing, because he's into having us switch roles anyway, so I got to pretend I was him and I was upset because Weeyum wasn't coming to school that day. And he told me he would not go to work that day and I didn't have to go to school, and we could go to the zoo instead. Interesting. (Of course, then it turned out that all the animals in the zoo 'are died,' because the coyotes ate them. And then the crocodiles from the LA River were chasing us, so we had to drive especially fast. And then it was hard to bring the conversation back to where I wanted it. But at least I tried, right?)

In any case, I'm hopeful that, combined with a discussion I had with the preschool director yesterday about how he's needing a little special attention right now, things will get better for him. Because the image of him smushed into a cubby waiting for eight hours to go home is too much for me to bear.

And then, of course, there's the obsessing. There's the "OK, maybe we can deal with this. But is this a sign of a bigger problem? Am I missing it?" I mean, for one thing, this is not a child who's been dealt a particularly favorable genetic deck when it comes to mental illness. Grandpa's a loon--the technical term is bipolar, of course, but he takes it way beyond that to true loon-dom. Mom's a...whatever I am. A depressive, maybe, or maybe bipolar II. A panic attack sufferer. A full-out neurotic for sure. Dad, too, has his issues, especially panic. So while I wouldn't normally go straight to "is he depressed?" for a 4-year-old who mopes or throws a fit because he's pissed that his best friend isn't at school, I wonder sometimes if I should be going there for N. As I said to one of the other parents this morning, as N cheerfully but deteminedly attempted to move the mat and blanket and pillow aside so that he could draw his other leg into the cubby, "You know, there's attachment and then there's pathology. And I can't help thinking that day-long cubby-sitting is just the teensiest bit pathological."

That's my boy. Next thing you know, he'll be playing the starring role in "Single White Male: The Preschool Years." Opening soon in a cubby near you.

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