Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Question of Passion

It was my turn to put E to bed last night and as I was waiting for the tossing and turning in my lap to cease and the soft snores to commence, I started thinking about how easy it had been to break E from using a pacifier nearly ten months ago. I basically broke him out of the habit of using a pacifier to go to sleep in one night. K had been hiding the pacifiers from him during the day for a couple of weeks by this time, and we were only using them to help put him to sleep for naps and at night. I just didn't bother getting one out for him one night and he went to sleep without complaint. He hasn't used one since and has never seemed to miss them.

This has been a defining characteristic for E throughout his short 19 months of life. He just doesn't get that attached to things. He never used pacifiers excessively to start with. He'd only reach for them when tired even early on. He might find one he'd stashed in a shoe or in a box and take a few drags on it before stashing it once again, but he never seemed addicted. There has been no security blanket or stuffed animal for him either. No toy seems to be his favorite. He seems indifferent to which (or any) blankets we leave in his crib. In the past I've always taken this lack of obsession as a sign that he lacks an addictive personality. That's definitely a good thing.

Only last night, as I waited until he was still enough to dump into his crib and get back to the football game on TV, I started to think that maybe this lack of attachment was a bad thing. I'm not worried about the sort of inability to form attachments that signify autism. He forms attachments with people and interacts with them normally. He even shows signs of empathy already. I'm not worried about that in the least. What started worrying me tonight was that he won't be a man of passions as he gets older.

Now, I don't mean passion as it's often meant. I really don't want him to be ruled by his emotions, a hothead and a hot lover. What I mean is that he won't be taken over by his enthusiasms and interests. I think my life is better because of my near obsessive-compulsive approach to subjects that interest me. I've never understood how people who don't suffer from obsessive passions find a reason to live. I think being a geek makes me a more interesting person. The alternative just seems so utterly boring to me, but then my mom is one of those people and she's always seemed perfectly happy.

Of course, I could have just had too much time to think as I sat there rocking in the dark. After all, E loves books, but it's more the concept of books he loves than any individual book. He doesn't seem to have favorites in his collection. His mom and I do, but he's happy as long as he has a book in front of him. If mommy or daddy are reading the book to him, he's even happier, but it really doesn't matter. He even ran through a Barnes & Noble last Saturday yelling, "Book! Book! Book! Book!" as he ran from shelf to shelf amazed at the sheer mass of publications.

He's also become wildly enthusiastic about screaming at the top of his lungs at us and then collapsing into giggles. It's a bit painful on the ears, but endearing in a weird way. Perhaps he'll be a geek like his dad after all.


Julie said...

I don't take it as a bad thing. It will make it easier on him to move around frequently (and keep his dad happy) if he doesn't have unnecessary attachments. Plus he will never be a consumer whore like is "aunt" julie.

Chris said...

Hm. Too much time to think? Yes, probably, but I see what you mean. I'd tend to agree with Julie -- his lack of obsessions will most likely do him more good than harm. I don't think it follows logically to say he won't have strong areas of interest as he matures.

Courtney said...

I have no doubt that he'll be a geek just like you.

I am also one to be passionate about certain things, and I agree that it makes for a more well-rounded person. I often wonder about people who don't really care about anything. Perhaps they're happy, but it just seems like such a boring way to live.

But I do think there is a difference between being passionate about something and being needlessly attached to something. Pacifiers aren't something to be passionate about; it's just an oral fixation. That would be like someone saying they're passionate about cigarettes, when in fact they've just grown accustomed to them.