Popularity Syndrome

This morning I realized that my son is suffering from a not too uncommon disease called the POPULARITY SYNDROME. I have had many health problems but never this one. I can't recall anyone in my family having it although on his Dad's side there is at least one cousin who has enough symptoms to fit in this category.

It is causing him quite a bit of stress and anxiety. Often the symptoms of this disorder are quite easy for him to handle, and the first time we noticed the underlying anxiety that coincides w/ this disease was last school year. For my son, the hardest time to deal with the syndrome is at school. Primarilly, when the teacher lets the students pick their own partners. Everyone, or most everyone, shouts his name and waves his/her hand. They compete against each other for his attention in hopes that he will choose them for the "special" honor of being his partner.

My son tries and tries to cope with this situation, always hoping and praying that God will intervene into his plight by convincing his teacher to choose the children's partners for them. He is convinced that this will alleviate all the pressure and stress that mounts as the kids shout and wave at him.

This morning before school he was especially distressed about his disorder. We talked about many different aspects of the symptoms of this disease. In particular, the shouting, waving and yelling of other people around him. He was expressing his frustration and I could see in his face that he was really quite disturbed about the whole thing. Wanting him to feel validated, I told him that it would only be natural for a person to feel anxiety and be incredibly frustrated at the shouting, waving and yelling. I told him that he really should ellicit his teacher's help in trying to deal with this very real problem.

At that very moment, I realized the discomfort that one with this disorder suffers. I felt much compassion for him even though this was nothing that I, a poor humble person, had ever experienced. Just about the same time that I was having this realization he looked at me with a sorrowful face.

"You know what I do?" he said.

"No, what? Tell me!" I said with anticipation.....

"I pick the last person," he said.

"That's a great idea." I replied, quite shocked.

After he walked out the door for school I remembered this saying: The last shall go first and the first shall go last.

Wow, I thought. How often I think that the troubles in my life are meaningless, worthless, tiresome and irritating. But yet, so often they are used, if we allow them, to teach us lessons. Lessons, not only about ourselves, but about the human condition and how it relates to God.

"Just a child...." I thought. How did he know that this was God's own strategy at the spiritual competition that man pits against one another. Humbled again, as I so often am with the simplicity that children have, I was greatful. In that moment, I was greatful for my son's "syndrome" and all of the trials it would bring him, and the lessons too.

"Wait!" I shouted after him.

I gave him a hug and looked into his eyes. "You know what?! God has given you a gift. I'm sorry that it's hard," I said hugging him. "I know it's not easy. Please try to have patience with the others," I added, "and all the shouting and waving. And, it's o.k. to be frustrated. Just ask for help. Your teacher will help you, that's her job. Will you tell her how you feel?"

Really, I think that's the hardest part: the asking for help part. I guess I'll have to wait until he gets home from school to find out what the Teacher said. The teacher will help, I know it.....the good one's always do.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Wow, that is so great that he came up with the perfect solution all on his own. Just awesome. That's one great kid!