My godson, who I will call 'Ryan', is a little whirling dervish of boisterous urchin-like energy all tightly bound in the body of a pint-sized, fair-haired muscle man. The first thing he always requests is my son's Nerf guns. He reminds me of a Craig Davison or Jason Ratliff painting. He makes me smile every time he comes to visit. The general consensus is he may have ADHD. I think he's routinely scolded or shunned for 'destructive' behaviour. Anyway...
Yesterday he comes swaggering in, brow furrowed in concentration, demands said Nerf gun, and on finding that we have run out of bullets, is at a loss as to what to do with himself. He finds a bit of mdf in our junkyard of a garden, (that was previously covering a drain), and he begins to break it apart. We all stood there watching, curious.
Ryan looks up tentatively, I think he as expecting a telling-off. But me and his uncle Merlin were well pleased: the bit of mdf needed breaking up anyway.
"Go on Ryan!" we hollered. "Smash it up!"
So he put his everything into it, gleeful grin on face.
When he was done, he looked kind of upset: there was nothing left to smash up.
So I went and got the piles of recycling from the kitchen. "Can you crush these?" I asked him. I watched his eyes light up.
"Yeeeah!" he said, with a sort of rueful mischievous relish.
I watched him for a full forty-five minutes, enthusiastically stamping on cans and bottles and packets, screaming 'aargh!' as he did so, while I played cheerleader. He stopped only to remove a snail form it's dangerous position on the garden path and set it down gently in a safe, green corner, away from his deliberate chaos.
"Here!" I said, "I think you've got a career in demolitions!". He beamed at me full of pride. I wasn't joking. Good career that I reckon.
Meanwhile, my son Lorenzo, steps out into the chaos to ask quietly, if his graphic novels are now in alphabetical order. "Yep!" I said, after checking them twice. He likes accuracy. Pleased with himself, he returned to Fortnite.
Ryan had finished the recycling, and was really proud of himself. I gave him fifty pence for his troubles: enough to buy him a neon-coloured pack of sweets loaded with E numbers. I'm a bad auntie.
Looking at our neurodiverse bunch of boys, I was reminded of a TED Talk I watched once, about how our kids' most 'annoying' traits, might actually be their genius. And how, in life, you need trailblazers like Ryan to destroy things, so that new things can be made: like an evolutionary recycling project.
Destruction can be constructive. It all depends on how you look at it.