So off on the Tennessee kick I’ve gone. I’m reading, concurrently, the letters from 1920 (he’s 9 and spells about the same as Henry) through 1941, and the short stories in order. What a writer.
Williams is so completely honest, and, early on, incredibly kind. I think he was always kind, hopelessly romantic, sweet – and of course, bitchy and mean and drunk as he got older. The world’s not set up for the kind and hopelessly romantic, so to survive, you do what you gotta do.
His letters as a teenager are already pretty stunning for command of the language and natural style. His first story, an Egyptian potboiler pretty much cribbed right out of Herodotus (he basically admits it toward the end of the story) is great fun; he totally relishes the lurid aspects of his story, and of course the heroine has a big drama queen death at the end. He’s just a pleasure to read, even when he’s not writing anything great. I really wish I’d known him. Sigh.
On a separate note, we had the Youngest’s annual IEP meeting today. What a marked difference from those in the past at the old school. There, one or two teachers understood the kid, but most of them always made me feel like I was raising the village idiot, someone who would never fit in. Now of course anyone who’s glimpsed the youngest knows what B.S. that is, so I didn’t even bother to refute it, just fumed with an occasional bitchy comment.
Today, on the other hand, every participant repeatedly stressed what a great kid Y is, what a good job the spouse and I are doing, and that we’re preparing him, by helping him navigate waters normal to most but potentially treacherous to someone who doesn’t do things in the “normal” way, to break out and truly come into his own when he’s ready. And, as opposed to the constant sighs and eye rolls of the other groups that he’s not “quite there” socially, we found out that he’s made many friends (we knew of a few) and is also considered to be one of the more resourceful kids at his grade level. Unjaundiced eyes are marvelous things.
I don’t know what I did to deserve two such amazing kids, but I’m truly thankful to have been entrusted with them, and to have the spouse right by my side to watch them grow. Reading about young Tennessee, who was never accepted, knowing how similar his struggles were to the spouse’s on that front, I truly feel like parents who will accept you are a pretty rare commodity. I am truly humbled to have been given a chance to nurture these two. I truly hope I can always give them what they need, and I’m glad they’ve been so forgiving of all my mistakes