That Idiot Woman and Am I Just Torturing Mysel?

First of all, to Julie Ryerson who wrote the book about her son being on skunk: I do not want to read this book or even see you waste valuable "review" section newsprint. You write a book about your son and paint him as a bad person? You are without virtue or wisdom. Certainly every parent must take a good, hard look at themselves whenever they see things in their children they dislike. I think if you don't conclude you are in some way responsible, and include that in your book, then you essentially are blind to yourself. You are a complex character in the story of your own life, - not some two-dimensional hand-wringing sainted parent. Give yourself some credit and some blame. Honey, subconciously you wrote the book so that someone would step up to the plate and tell you this, so fine, I'll tell you. You are ignorant about yourself. I know a great shrink who could really help you. Mine. Self-awareness will vastly improve your writing and your relationship with your son.

Today my five-year-old son's teacher kept me at the gate and mentioned that something has to be done to help O's concentration. She was very kind and discreet and I totally agree. He has a killer imagination (kudos to me), but it is so interesting that he spends all his time there and very frequently is not engaged with what is going on. (blame to me) He is hopeless at completing a task without constant prodding. When left to his own devices, he will just pace in a room, saying different people's lines under his breathe. He calls it the story that will never end. When he shares them with me, I actually think they are pretty good. He's a natural for giving each character a distinctive voice. It is an inborn talent.

But he has a problem engaging with the world around him. When he was born, I had a tough time adjusting. In fact, I think I spent a lot of time pacing around rooms talking under my breathe about what I needed to do next, and overruling myself, and weighing efficiencies and all the fuckery of first parenthood. He was premature and frequently ill, and my encounters with the NHS escalated to exteme hostility very quickly because they were not providing the care I thought he needed. Also, I was also an American engaging with British culture at a very intimate level (birth).

But basically, I have to ask myself how much, during the crucial 0-3 patterning period, was I living inside my own head and unable to engage with what was in front of me. Unable to complete a task? Is he mimicking that?

And, you know, I have to ask myself a lot of questions and consider it dispassionately for a great while. I am sure I will think that I only have the answer in retrospect, anyway, this is always true in my life.

And I have to ask myself how I can change my own behaviour to help O learn to engage. I don't have a chance of changing his unless I change mine. Pretty basic psychotherapy. Luckily, there are many things in the parent arsenal: the bribe of Eurodisney earned through stars on a star chart, cosy talks in bed. By the way, Julie, your son will get worse and worse the more you follow the course you are on (which started when you were writing about him in a column, right?) - change yourself in order to change the dynamic.

And, Julie, I would only write a book if I had an intelligent answer worth reading to the above dilemma on both the cause and the cure.

And if I concluded that in the book and in my life I was going to exclude my son from my love and protection, well, then, I would realize that the book - and the story of my life - was not over and that it was my responsibility to write the story of my own life with a happy ending. No one else is going to do it for me, or for you. The conclusion is simply unsatisfactory. Try harder, bend and break yourself. No less is required of you. Especially you who would publish.

Perhaps you have concluded that the second home in the home counties this book will finance is your happy ending, and not a reconciliation with your son?


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