I have a two year old who can’t walk.
We have seen our pediatrician, two pediatric orthopedists (one of them twice), two physical therapists, and we are about to see a neurologist and begin physical therapy again. Her diagnosis? “Low muscle tone” Her prognosis? “Well, she’ll probably walk eventually.”
The frustration and worry around this is unbelievable. My husband and I have stayed up late at night talking about it, worrying about it, thinking about it, crying about it. When the kid and I go out, people make comments about why I’m always carrying around a giant two year old (and she is very tall for her age), or they give me the “WTF?” look when my kid insists on knee walking around the store (walking on her knees is her current mode of transportation). The way I cope is by joking about it. “Yeah, I know it’s weird. Have you see anything like this before? She’s been through five pairs of pants already! At least, she’s can’t run away from me!” It eases the tension and keeps me from breaking down into tears.
But most interestingly, it gets other people talking.
Two friends I have known since high school just recently told me stories about their children. One of my friend’s sons didn’t talk until he was three. The other had a son who was diagnosed with a language delay and dyslexia. His younger brother read before he did. Just today, I went to get my kid fitted for foot braces (my next attempt to get her walking) and the doctor told me that he had to hold his oldest son back from the third grade because he wasn’t emotionally ready. And even today, the eight year old is extremely shy and loves to cling to his father.
These are just a few stories, but there are more. What I have found is that when I talk to people, I see the worry and pain on their faces, indicators of sleepless nights, frustrating experiences, and silent tears. We all share more with each other than we reveal on a regular basis, and we all have experiences in our lives that mark us and motivate us to do the things we do.
Such is the case with the main character of novella #2. When I first started writing her, she began as a woman who paid escorts for sex because it was easy. She didn’t have time for a relationship, she didn’t want to be bothered, she was too wrapped up in work–you know, the typical story. As I continued to write her, however, things became more complicated, and the real reason behind her behavior was revealed. (As you can tell, I’m a total pantser. I only have a vague notion of where I’m going and stuff comes to me along the way.)
She was betrayed by the two people she loved the most–her fiancé and her best friend–when she caught them in bed with each other. The pain of the revelation was so severe that emotionally, she cut herself off from everyone. She still had sexual desires, of course, but paying a man to have sex with her was better. He was a professional. No emotions involved; just a good time. That’s why she did what she did. That was the pain that was inside her. And that’s why she was so resistant to the hero when he began to get close.
Discovering this inner story instantly made her a richer, fuller character, and it made her more real. We are all carrying with us our inner stories. So when I joke about my kid not walking at two, it’s how I deal with the pain and worry that she may never walk at all.
It is our inner stories that make us human, and connecting with each other’s inner stories, both real and fictional, is what constitutes our humanity.