Weighing Shakespeare

When I see her on my list, I smile.  Her name was there recently, toward the end of the afternoon.

I smiled.

I knew she would come in with her grandmother.  I knew we would discuss her weight and her behavior, just like the last time. And the last time. And the time before that.

Her grandmother would be dissatisfied with both of those things.

She would be satisfied with both of those things. Confidently, unapologetically satisfied.

The extra folds of fat on her belly, the limited number of friends in her sphere, the teetering grades, the mop of unkempt wild red hair on her head, the looks from strangers who stare at her quirky ways and wonder at the volume of her joyful voice .

In the old days, her grandmother and I would set about trying to diagnose her, to fix her, to make her fit in.  She had been through hell and back her first six years, seen things that no child should see, felt things that no child should ever feel.

Should we try counseling? Medication? Social skills training?

We tried them all.

“She’s driving me crazy,” the tired, older woman would greet me, every single time I entered the room. “She never shuts up.” Today was no exception.

These things were true.

She did.

And she didn’t.

But as the visits went by and the years did too, and nothing seemed to ever change, it dawned on me. Her grandmother loved being driven crazy. She loved the constant stream of chatter. More than anything, though, she simply loved this child the way she was and is and will be.

Suddenly nothing needed fixing anymore. Counseling? Medication? Social skills training? All were good ideas, but we slowly stopped them all.

Because love is better.

Today she brought a friend with her to the visit–a huge book of Shakespeare she was reading for fun. We talked about which play she liked best–she had read about ten of them and was smack in the middle of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

We put the massive black book on the scale to see how much it weighed.

9 pounds, 3 ounces. The size of a very large newborn baby.

“I love this book!” she said, reading off the name of each work she had already read in the table of contents.

“But tell her what you are making in English” said grumpy grandmother, scowling.

“I’ve got a 69!” she announced happily.

All of us know that with her IQ, she should have about 105 in English. But she wants to read Shakespeare for fun instead of doing her classwork.

I couldn’t think of a treatment for that, couldn’t think of a counselor or medication that would or should diminish a love for Shakespeare in a 14 year old red head.

More love was prescribed, with a tincture of patience.

And I am already looking forward to her next visit.




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