Description: An excerpt from the rough draft of Vice-Principal Pangborn's Doctoral Thesis on child psychology, chronicling the exploits of Dill Pickles as "exhibit A". Rated for tween-age angst and implied misuse of drugs.

Embracing the Creative Child

by

Estes Pangborn


Chapter 1~ Defining the Creative Child

During my years as a teacher, I have had the opportunity to work with many unique children. The world of childhood education is a veritable rainbow of diversity and for every normal well adjusted individual there has to be at least a dozen who suffer from learning disabilities, poor social skills, or mental instability of some kind.

There are a number of students with documented mental disabilities in my district. Their disabilities are well defined and understood. However, such students are not the focus of this essay. This essay instead will focus upon a range of more loosely defined disabilities and the unusual children who exhibit them. Such disabilities as attention deficit disorder (ADD)*, social anxiety disorder (SAD)**, and Unusual Child Syndrome (UCS)*** will be discussed in this selection.

Exhibit B is a student who suffers from ADD, named Fitzgerald Dublay. He lives in a decent middle-class neighborhood, with both of his parents and his fraternal twin sister. However, despite his alleged wholesome background and average IQ he does poorly on school work. This is a result of his inability to concentrate which is a symptom of ADD. Exhibit B also suffers from a related ailment known as Lasting Attention Zebrogation Inability (LAZI)****.

Exhibit C is a student named Chester Finstoid who suffers from SAD. The social awkwardness which has resulted from the boy's disability put stress on his interpersonal relationships and is reflected in his performance during group activities in the area of academics.

Exhibit A has both ADD and Sad. In addition to these disabilities the specimen in question (Whom we will refer to as Neil Cucumbers) suffers from the rare genetic disorder known as Unusual Child Syndrome. This individual displays qualities of all three syndromes to be discussed in this essay, and will be a useful tool for understanding the connectedness of the aforementioned impairments. For this reason the purpose of chapter one will be to explore the case study surrounding Exhibit A.

Nine-year-old Neil Cucumbers is a exceptionally unusual child. He practices many bizarre habits, which seem to indicate a spectrum of psychological and educational disorders. He has been known to wear unusual clothes (i.e.: Lederhosen, mismatched socks, Scottish kilt, striped hat with dentures sowed to the top ect.), eat unusual foods, and walk backwards from class to class. In addition to this the subject possesses an abnormal obsession with aliens and the supernatural.

A child with such as Cucumbers who exists in such a fragile psychological state benefits from regular counseling, and should be encouraged to view his or her socially abhorrent qualities in a positive light. In other words the student's unusual qualities should be thought as "creative" as opposed to "freakish." It is important for the mentor of a child with disabilities to embrace this philosophy before engaging such a child in conversation.

During some of our earlier counseling sessions Cucumbers was unwilling to respond to personal questions concerning the rationale behind his actions. When I asked him why he walked from class to class backward he responded that it was because "It was easier to get abducted by aliens that way." When asked the same question multiple times he responded with multiple answers. He later claimed that he walked backwards because "he didn't want the gnomes to sneak up behind him when he wasn't expecting it." And by the end of our conversation he swore to god that he did it because "someone put a curse on him."

As you can imagine, I became somewhat frustrated by the outcome of our conversation. However, my frustration seemed to amuse him and this encouraged him to continue coming up with increasingly outrageous answers to my questions. If I wanted Cucumbers to be more honest during these counseling sessions then I needed to change my attitude about his behavior. Rather than becoming angry when I received a nonsensical answer. I listened quietly and nodded, taking his replies to mean: "That question is too personal, and I'm not going to answer it."

Over time Cucumbers began to trust me. He started talking more about his family and his everyday life. He told me that his dad was an inventor and that his mom was studying to be a child psychologist. He told me that "the more she learned about child psychology the less she seemed to understand him". This made him feel isolated and often ignored. I asked him if this had anything to do with his strange behavior and he assured me that there was no connection.

Clearly, I had made some headway in uncovering the mystery that was this strange child. It seemed that some psychological issue was aggravating his UCS.

Cucumbers came in for another counseling session a few days before Christmas break. He seemed depressed, so I asked him what was wrong. He told me that his older brother was invited to a party and he wasn't.

"He always gets invited to parties," he told me. "Everyone always thinks that he's so great all the time, but I don't get why. I can do anything he can do about a hundred times better."

I nodded patiently and said nothing. I sensed he might be easily frightened away from this topic, and that any input from me was likely to distract this highly distractible exhibit.

Cucumbers went on to say: "But that's not even what's bothering me. The thing is...he doesn't want me to go to that party...and neither do any of his friends. They just feel sorry for me because I'm a weirdo, and they pretend to like me...but really they're just embarrassed by me."

I told him that this probably wasn't true and that he should replace the word "weirdo" in the previously spoken sentence with the politically correct phrase: "creative child."

"You treat individuality like it's a disease," Cucumbers said, his voice cracking. "I'm not disabled...and my personality is not a sickness! Do you hear me I'm not sick!"

I responded with a blank look and this seemed to infuriate him into an explanation.

F...fine what do you want me to say!" he shouted between sobs. "I'll tell you what ever you want to hear. Do you want to hear me say that I do this stuff because nobody cares that I exist! There I just said it are you happy now? Nobody pays any attention to me because they're all so in love with my stupid brother! Not even my mom cares that I'm alive she just sees me as...as...somethin' out of a Dr. Lipchitz book! It's just like when I was an infant and she kept me strapped in that yellow car seat all the time! I'm part of the background to her...and to everyone else I'm just a loser whose just too lame to make his own friends!"

Cucumbers put his hands over his face and cried. I asked him if he wanted a tissue and he replied that there was "a conspiracy amongst tissue paper companies to spread their influence through means of mind control." I took this to mean "no."

"What else do you want to hear? Do you wanna hear that I'm off my meds?" he cried. "Do you want to hear that I'm saving it and selling it to kids? I'm not but if that's what you want to hear then that's what I'll tell you! Do you want to hear tha...that people make fun of me all the time!...and...and I just ignore it and pretend like it doesn't bother me-because they'd make fun of me no mater what I did! So I might as well just do what I want, right? I might as well be seen!...You want to know the real reason why I wear this hat?"

He took off the bizarre, striped, winter hat he was wearing and wiped his nose on it.

"Because of this heinous Jew fro I have," he said Pointing to his hair, which was curly and orange. "And the real reason why I walk backwards It's because...because...I'm afraid that someone will sneak up behind me and give me a wedgie. I don't want my brother or any of his friends to know that I get picked on...It would make me look pathetic. I pretend like it doesn't bother me...but sometimes...it does."

Clearly his UCS was-Oh god, I can't publish this. It would make me look unprofessional and besides...it would humiliate him. I'll need to do some fine editing, glaze over it a little bit, and censor some of it out-


Footnotes:

*ADD is an illness defined as "an inherent inability to perform tedious tasks without distraction" (Lipchitz 42.)

**SAD is disability which results in social awkwardness or possibly a reluctance to place ones self in social situations (Lipchitz 42.)

***UCS is a genetic disorder which is characterized by irritating or abnormal behavior. The effects of this disorder usually become manifest in early childhood. (Lipchitz 43.)

****LAZI is a disability characterized by a child's unwillingness to perform tedious tasks with necessary promptness. Usually the ailment occurs in conjunction with ADD. (Lipchitz 1.)