Thomas loved to go fishing with his father. They had such great fun together. When he was six, his parents were killed in an auto accident, and he came to live with his widowed grandmother.
Before his parents died, Thomas was a happy go-lucky little kid. But now he tried to do everything he could for his grandmother. If she wanted a soda, he hurried to get it for her. He ran to get the newspaper as soon as it was delivered. He watched her constantly—careful to meet her needs, not thinking about his own.
His grandmother brought him in for counseling because she was worried about him. This young boy worked out his feelings of sadness and grief over his parent’s death; and as his therapy progressed, he told me he was afraid his grandmother would die also, and he would have no one to take care of him.
The next session the three of us talked about all the people in his family that loved him—aunts, uncles, and cousins. His grandmother told him she was the lucky, special one who got to take raise him, but others in the family would love to care for him also.
I suggested that Thomas and his grandmother plan a special trip—something that Thomas would enjoy. He thought about it and decided he would like to go fishing just like he and his father used to.
Grandmother, Thomas, and his Uncle Jack spent the weekend at Uncle Jack’s favorite fishing hole. Thomas had a great weekend. He brought back this picture to show me.
“See the fish in the jewels? I was hiding inside before I came to see you, just like the fish in this picture. But now I don’t have to hide anymore.”
I love the insight of this small boy. When I think of this incident, I wonder if there are other children hiding themselves in order to meet the needs of an adult. Look around you. Be an advocate for a child. Help him become the best he can be by developing a strong sense of self. Include service in his young life, but not at the expense of losing his childhood.
Help him be true to himself.