Last night, my daughter took this photograph of her brother as they played around with the camera. I look at his prayerful stance and can’t help but love him but also laugh at the so many moments this kid has driven me crazy. We are a bit similar in nature. Free-spirited, sees only the positive, does not take anything too seriously, lives life in the moment; does not see danger, does not plan a lot …. all this is good, but when you are a mother trying to manage a kid, this type of personality can be very challenging. (Now, I have a better appreciation for what my mother went through with me).
Jelan was about 16 years old and very, very unsettled at school, to my mind. In my attempt to solve the problem and “fix” him, I decided to take him to a psychologist. The cost of the visit was $150.00 for one hour and for my budget, it was a lot of money. But hey – what wouldn’t a mother do to save her child?
“Mom, save your money.” he said. “There is nothing wrong with me.” he argued,
Nothing would stop me. We walked into the psychologists office and the psychologist asked us, “So what is the problem?”
Jelan said, “I don’t have a problem. There is nothing wrong with me.”
The psychologist continued to dig deeper while Jelan sat on the chair, completely disengaged; he held his face in his hand, slightly bent over and made no attempt to respond to questions. I struggled trying to explain the situation to the psychologist so I could find a solution to motivate the kid to do better in school.
After an hour, the psychologist looked at me and said, “Mom, you need help. You need to find support for yourself and maybe see a psychologist a few more times. Jelan is fine. He has to go through the “University of Hard Knocks” so that he can learn and find his way through life.”
I was completely baffled. I needed help? I came here to get help for Jelan!!!
Jelan looked at me with a smirk on his face. I was furious. I had just spent $150.00 to be told that I had a problem. Jelan was still NOT FIXED!!!
Jelan and I walked out of the door and as we hit the sidewalk, we both started to laugh. I realized the absurdity of the situation, $150.00 less and an “unfixed” child. I laughed until the tears rolled down my face and he said, “See I told you that you did not have to pay $150.! I am fine!”
Across the street was a Gelato store. He teasingly said, “You just paid $150.00 for one hour to see this psychologist. It should not be too expensive to get me a gelato… it is only $5!.” We both laughed some more. While we were having the gelato, he said, “It looks cool to be a psychologist. You just need to sit there and listen and let the people solve their own problems!”
Jelan is 18 years old now, studying Media and Communications at College. I learnt to let go of him and trust that life would guide him. I had to trust that his soul would grow and learn to fulfill his mission here. Indeed he has gone through some hard knocks but I am glad that I allowed him to crash when he needed to because altogether, it has helped him become more aware of himself and make better choices in life. Sometimes we try to protect our children but we have to keep in mind that each one of us have an individual journey and we can’t protect them from everything.
That experience gave me a new perspective on how to deal with situations in my life. I reached the tipping point where I realized that I don’t have to fix anything or anyone. I only need to fix my response to situations and people. That is the only thing I can control. No one can fix us. We can step up to make changes for our lives but the only way real change will happen, is when the change is intrinsically motivated. The psychologist was right – I needed help to cope and I got it – in fact still get it – from my wonderful friends who are great listeners.
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