Calm her down?

Tuesday early, we sat and talked in front of the fire
the Nightingale and I –
with warm coffee in mugs and stories spilling forth, freshly brewed.
Over and over, I wanted to take photos.  But, that still small voice said,
*whispers* “this is private.”
I must be more bold to ask for permission …. and snap
even those tender times of private beauty.

Our conversation ambled around to creativity
she is and I am.
She said she hasn’t had much inspiration lately
and has been a little disconcerted.
She’s newly married to a wonderful man. … spends her time homemaking, husband-loving, knitting, playing cello, reading, looking for a job, hiking and studying on midwifery, her passion.  Doesn’t that sound lovely? Do you see? She’s settled? …  content and pleased. Life is calm(er) than earlier times when she was struggling with some personal mayhem.

We talked about turmoil and its role in creativity … for some of us, at least.
Since that time of fellowship and conversation, I have continued to give it much thought.

Isn’t turmoil a catalyst, at times, of much beautiful creativity?   Don’t those that are creative stream loveliness – or drama – when there is turbulence within?  Haven’t most incredible artists been unsettled in some way … at some time? Aren’t the brilliant minds carried inside the flesh and bones of folk whom OTHERS think odd, unusual and eccentric?

Think of them … wonderful works of art: stunning poetry, shocking photographs, fascinating plays, brilliant inventions, fabulous novels, startling paintings, amazing drawings. It can.not be held in when it is stirring. It oozes … pushes … springs forth from the fingertips, mouth and soul.

I think of today: so many millions of children – and more and more adults –  spend their days calmed by drugs. With that calm, comes a muffling, stifling, cloaking of creativity.

And these children that are calmer … easier for teachers, siblings and bosses to manage, but what is the exchange rate? What do we lose in exchange for sedation?  And where is self-control? How is temperance learned, if there are no urges  … to move, dart, speak …. we must control?

And know that I am not referring to needs that protect from harm.  There are medicines that do great things for depression and a multitude of mental struggles and illnesses.

And so, a dear, sweet friend is concerned about Joy.  The friend is a nurse who understands psychiatry.  We have had several conversations about the situation and she has mentioned it to Joy several times, as well. She is concerned for her health, well-being, and education. She is concerned for her socially. She would really like to see her medicated. And I … I just can’t bring myself to accept this. I.just.can’

Joy has trouble staying on task at times … when she is doing something that doesn’t completely hold her interest.  But, if she’s telling you a story, she absolutely can’t be interrupted. She will come back to the story ….
again …
and again ….
and again until she has exhausted her thoughts on the topic.
She will work on a project for hours and hours and hours, if she’s interested. She worked on this tremendous box of parts, studying instructions, organizing pieces and snapping one piece at a time for two full days until she completed this K’nex roller coaster.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of the final project! … but THIS is what the project looks like when it is finished.  We actually have two sets of this particular K’nex product, so hers was longer than the one in the link … she made her own modifications and additions.

I even quizzed her three teachers as to whether or not Joy might need some help?  With ruffled brows, they emphatically told me “No … she is one of our best students. She’s a child. She’s fine.” They spend seven hours a day, five days a week with her. Wouldn’t they notice if there was a problem?

And she is interested in many different areas of creativity. She draws and writes poetry and songs. She is piddling in writing music for her songs. She is enthralled with the violin. She loves modification.  I wrote here about her fascination with taking things apart … way back in July of ’08.  One day, I’m afraid that I will walk into the house and find she has dismantled something big …. like the refrigerator or washing machine … and created a teleporter or invisibility machine or a hovercraft … or something that will see through walls … or turn silver into gold …. or something else really outlandish and seemingly impossible. I tell you, this is a thought of mine.

She has drawers of pieces and parts …. of pdas, mp3s, game systems and calculators that she has taken apart. When I yard sale, she tags along, looking for lawn mowers and blowers or electronics she can buy and use for parts. Why would I want to calm this … alter this child and her creative mind?

How would our world be different if Einstein, Whitney, Edison had been sedated? The world of art would be less wide and deep without Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.

As with Sarah, there are times of settling, when we naturally experience a calm. Those should be embraced. But, the chemically induced kind …. I’m just not wanting to risk the loss of the good so that she will be a little more calm … that she will stay on task when cleaning her room. It’s simply not worth the trade.


13 thoughts on “Calm her down?

  1. Absolutely follow your own instincts on this one! You might want to watch the movie Temple Grandin or do some research about the woman of the same name. Temple is a woman who is still living and enormously accomplished in a very unique field that she created for herself. She was/is often completely out of control but has a photographic memory and is an engineering savant. Rich downloaded the movie last week completely by luck and we were enthralled…isn’t timing something to behold?

    I have a mildly autistic son who is now in his late thirties and the lingering doubts about parenting such a child are whether or not you made the right choices as you faced each fork in the road. The same is true about parenting children who are gifted too.


    1. Ah, but Bev … no matter the child – autistic, mentally challenged, ADHD, gifted or completely “normal” (whatever that is!!!) – every parent wonders that question at some point, don’t you think? I agree with you “follow your own instincts.” And for the Christian parent, I cling to the idea that praying, instinct and His Word are all we need!


  2. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! She does not need medicine. We need more like her. Einstein said that he was passionately curious. That sounds like your daughter.


  3. Wheeler would remind you that Einstein was labeled ‘retarded’ by his teachers and totally disregarded. (Wheeler should know!) Your beautiful child is: creative, curious, a handful, intuitive, dramatic, torn between alliances, beautiful, eager, hungry for learning, etc. etc. Leave her be. It may not always be easy raising a child of this caliber, but it’s ALWAYS worth it.


  4. Hey Karen ! Wow I created a stir with my suggestion of ADHD . Maybe Albert Einstein would have found a cure for cancer or solved world hunger had he been on RITALIN !!!! ha ha ha ha


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