Where Do Wild People Come From? : Robin Williams
It began as all other interviews....an introduction, a welcoming, a place for the tape recorder. Only the greeter was Robin Williams, so getting to the chairs was great fun. Gracious and utterly unpredictable he finally answered my first question: "Where are your parents?"
As if on cue, Robin's Mom and Dad nudged each other onward into the living room. They were laughing and talking and seemed to notice me by default. We all got comfy....me with tape recorder and questions, they with a proud and content countenance. My first question to them set off waves of laughter.
"What is a well-adjusted child??!!??!! Well it's not our Robin and yet it is. A well-adjusted child is a child who does marvelously well in life with what he was given early on and with what he naturally has....who he is. The challenge with Robin was in getting there."
Robin's Mom poked her finger in the air as if demanding center stage, so to speak. She had much to say. "Robin came out different. I know. I was there. After long periods of kicking and twisting (and shouting?) he kind of popped out, barely making it to the doctor's hands. Eyes really wide open, looking around while constantly emitting strange noises from his mouth.....yes, Robin had arrived and this world was his stage."
My second question set off much the same reaction: happy remembrance and gratefulness at getting through the parenting experience. Does a well-adjusted child have behavior problems? "Oye, now we're getting complicated. There's no easy way to talk about this. Do you have all day?" Dad prodded Mom and Mom prodded back. "So it's like this.....Our Robin is a behavior problem. He likes to make up his own rules. I could have said he doesn't follow rules, but no,I said he makes up his own rules. You see, we knew he was different in a special way so we had to adjust our parenting to accommodate his personality needs while still helping (and hoping) to create a compassionate, capable human being who can live and thrive in this world. Now doing that and having a child keep his specialness is a huge task. I call parenting an encounter of humongous proportions that is never boring and lasts a life-time.
So, does a well-adjusted child have behavior problems?? Yes, of course. He's learning. Childhood is a time for learning....and so are parents. That's why kids have tantrums. Parents are learning on-the-spot and often make mistakes and do things that encourage tantrums. When I did such things and finally realized what I said or did caused a reaction, I had to think very hard about a different way to get my son to behave and be happy about it. Then I had to have some long talks with my husband, Robin's Dad here, so that he could be that same way with our child. These discussions didn't always get a great reception but I was persistent because I knew that with Robin's strong personality he was either going to be in trouble or be highly successful. I wanted to be a part of his success."
"Well", I said, "I guess you just answered the rest of my 48 questions!"
Oh, no, no let's go on. This is making me think, and I'm thinking I did an okay job.