Empathy No. 084
11/08/02, Levitt living rm. 8:50 PM (approx)
LLOYD: All right, final tally's in. Seven people coming for Thanksgiving, it looks like three of them will be staying over.
ELEANOR: That means...thirteen people here.
LLOYD: Don't sweat it too much, my sister's coming early to help set up, take care of most of the food. We're pretty much just providing the house. You still nervous?
ELEANOR: Yeah, a little bit.
LLOYD: More than a little, by the look of you. Is something else on your mind?
ELEANOR: It's nothing.
LLOYD: Ellie, come on.
ELEANOR: I mean, it's nothing you can help with.
LLOYD: Try me.
ELEANOR: ...Roderick's been more distant than normal lately. You've seen him, he won't even look at anyone. He's barely spoken to me this last week.
LLOYD: Well, he's probably nervous about it, too...or is there something else?
ELEANOR: He's upset with Dr. Brawney...and probably me too for taking him to see her. She's...made some suggestions, she has this theory about Roderick and wants me to help her prove it.
LLOYD: What kind of theory?
ELEANOR: It's this diagnosis. She thinks Roderick was misdiagnosed when he was little, and they have this new...test, I guess, for older kids, but they want him to talk to a specialist, and I'm going to have to sit for this interview, and...she told Roderick about it, he's upset, and she wants me to help test him without telling him, and I don't know what to do.
LLOYD: Ellie, I'm going to be straight with you here. It's not too surprising that Azalea is asking you this. You know, we speak socially, and when I told her about Roderick, she expressed some interest.
ELEANOR: I don't understand. You knew she was planning this?
LLOYD: Not exactly...okay. The first time I met Roderick, when you brought him along, I had no idea how he was going to react to me. I didn't think he'd be happy, but he also wasn't resentful, he wasn't curious or suspicious, he wasn't even scared. It was like he wasn't sure how he was supposed to react, how he was supposed to feel. I've never met a teenager who behaves like that, Ellie.
ELEANOR: He's just a little shy around strangers, that's not so unusual, is it?
LLOYD: Hold on. A while after that, I was speaking with Azalea about you and about the wedding. She really didn't see all that interested - one of the few people I know who didn't want to meet you and Roderick. But when I mentioned that evening and told her about him, she kind of perked up. Told me that if he had any problems, she could help. Now, she didn't say anything else, but she has been working with this team that studies teenagers with social problems. Maybe she thought Roderick would be a good fit.
ELEANOR: My God, I told him...I told him she wasn't going to do that kind of thing. He doesn't trust psychiatrists, it's the only way I could get him to agree. What am I doing?
LLOYD: Ellie, hold on. You're acting like you've done something harmful.
ELEANOR: Because I always resisted this. I mean...when Roderick was little? There were all these people coming to me, saying they wanted to help, or they wanted him for something. Intelligence studies, special schools, and...then there were the doctors saying he was abnormal, that he wasn't going to grow up right, and they wanted him for studies too. People offering to pay me, and I never let them because...he's not a science experiment.
LLOYD: Nobody thinks he is, Ellie. Your son is an extraordinary young man, but you have to see that he has problems. Now, this psychological stuff, it's beyond me, but it seems like if they can understand those problems, then they can help. What Azalea suggested, is it going to hurt him at all?
ELEANOR: No, he...doesn't even need to know about it.
LLOYD: Okay. And will it help him?
LLOYD: Then it seems like an easy decision. I know you like to talk things over with him, it's part of your relationship, but he's a teenager. He's brilliant, but he's sixteen years old, and boys that age don't always know what's best for them.
ELEANOR: ...I agreed to do the interview, and they're...she's going to speak with some people at his school. I can't believe I'm letting them spy on him.
LLOYD: Well, you can always say no, but deep down, you must know what's best.
ELEANOR: Yes. I just hope he understands when he finds out.
End of Part VIII
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