Friday, August 13, 2010

Filling the Gap

It's really hard to see your kids suffering. William is struggling with a crippling anxiety these days, afraid that I will disappear every time I am out of his sight, for even a moment. Recently I decided to break down some of the walls that I have inadvertently built against my tender boy, and even that positive change in me might be adding to his sense of worry, his concern that the world is not as safe as he would like it to be.

I remember having this kind of discussion with Ava at the beginning of Grade One. Our trailer had been vandalized over the summer, with glass shattered all over William's bunk bed, and when Ava got to her first day of school, one of the windows in her classroom was boarded up as it had been broken. The one-two punch of these events created a fear deep inside of her that the world wasn't safe. She began to chew her nails, and stay up late at night, and experience panic when her teacher would walk out of the classroom for a moment.

I tried everything I could think of to reassure my girl, but when I came to the end of the line with how I could help her, I met with her teacher and the Child Development Specialist at the school, and we came up with some strategies to help ease her fears. Facing up to my limitations as a parent was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but also one of the best, because for the first time I realized that sometimes I'm not the best person to help my child, and that's okay.

Within a week, Ava was back to herself, and I credit the work of the school staff for this transformation. I was humbled and amazed by the concern and love that was shown to my child and myself. Now it's William's turn for some outside help. He is going to a new preschool in September, and I know it's not going to be an easy transition, on the heels of a busy and unpredictable summer. He feels safe in routine, and when his days are topsy-turvy, he becomes worried that everything is out of his control, and he doesn't have the verbal ability to express it, so he simply cries, clings and has fear written all over his face.

I hate that my four year old feels so anxious. It makes me feel like I haven't done enough to protect him in this world. We all have to learn at some point that we aren't completely safe, and that faith is required in order to go anywhere and do anything, but I was hoping to ease him in a little slower to the harsh realities of life. He thinks about things and anticipates possibilities much more than his sister did at this age, and therefore his fears are more vivid and have come earlier to him.

I talked to a few friends yesterday, and they helped me, more than they will ever know. They reassured me, and offered possible solutions, and helped me find a child psychologist who will hopefully provide some assistance to my son, whom I love so deeply there isn't any way to put it into words. I'm going to continue to reassure him, to the best of my ability, but I'm also seeking the advice of a professional, who can help him in ways that I cannot. And my responsibility as his parent is to give him everything I can, and where I fall short, get him what he needs to fill the gap.

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