My P is a day dreamer. He lives for reading, video games and drawing--things that take him into a fantasy world far more exciting than his daily life. He is bright, creative and funny--but it is sometimes difficult to connect with him. I borrowed a slogan from a friend who describes it as "living in a happy place that we have to dial long distance to reach."
I adore my son for many reasons, but honestly, the fact that he is a puzzle that takes time and patience to unlock is one of his finest qualities. As an extrovert who loves to communicate and longs to be understood, I am fascinated by the fact that knowing P is a right you have to earn. Few people get true glimpses into his heart and mind, but what a delightful gift he is when you get there!
A few weeks ago I watched "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." I understand the literary work is quite different than the movie, but what relished about the film was the chance to get a sneak peek into the mind of a person that escapes reality by delving into an imagined world where he is the hero--brave, strong, confident and capable. Meanwhile, people in his real life dismiss him as spacy and clueless.
I won't spoil the movie's plot, but ultimately, Walter Mitty is faced with the choice to continue living 'safe' while imagining his desired life or make 'daring' real life decisions in line with his fantasies. Although it was a work of fiction, it has weighed on me to connect these lessons to an application for my boy.
I read with interest an article explaining one of the reasons boys love video games so much is because they get to be the hero. They can accomplish things (new high scores, beating levels, unlocking characters) much faster in a pixelated world than they can in real life--and that feels good. This realization offered some perspective to the screens that are so often my parenting nemesis, but it also challenged me to look for ways that my boys can find those feelings of heroism and accomplishment in real life. (This is a work in progress.)
An extrovert raising an introvert is a unique challenge. I love my boy and all the gifts his life offers to the world. Helping him find a voice--especially in our family full of other (louder) ones--is a journey.
I am grateful for P as a living, breathing daily reminder to slow down and invest in getting to know people who don't always wear their heart on their sleeves. I'm learning that like my P, many of the quietest/fringe people are full of little known treasure. What joy to discover it!
**Updated 5/15/14 to add: ** Tonight our family finally sat down to watch the movie I based this post on. Predictably, P loved it. After the closing credits I had a stolen moment with my P. "You know that movie reminds me of you? Walter's imagination, his courage when it counted, the world travel."
With a huge grin he said, "I'd love that to be my life, Mama..." Then he squenched up his face and continued, "But dog trainers don't make enough money for all that travelling."
Then he went into his room and got a sticky note from his drawer and in his prettiest cursive wrote a quote from the movie, "Beautiful things don't ask for attention." He stuck it to his bulletin board before climbing into bed. I love that kid!