Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stories from little worriers

When G was a baby, he was a smiley, extremely happy boy.  Not especially fearful of noises or dogs or anything unexpected.

When he turned three, though, he seemed to change a bit.  Perhaps it was that his imagination started to work differently than it had before or maybe his genetic predisposition to anxiety clicked to the on position.   He started waking every night, needing to check in with me for whatever reason, a need and/or habit that continues to this day.  He has been clinically diagnosed with mild anxiety.  He is what I would call a "scaredy cat" most of the time.  I can say this because I was as a kid and still am a scaredy cat.

One day last week he told me about what happened when he was on the playground.  His school is in the middle of a neighborhood, and he noticed a policeman talking to an old man at one of the houses.  G said an ambulance was there too.

He said he thought the old man was telling the police officer that there was a criminal who escaped from jail.  G said the criminal had a bracelet on his wrist with a chain attached to a ball.  He explained that the criminal broke into the old man's house and started taking all his precious treasures, like his wife's picture and jewels.

G continued saying that the criminal stood above the old man when he was sleeping and hit him in the neck with the ball hanging from his wrist.

I asked G if the old man he saw talking to the police officer was in a wheelchair or had bandages on his neck (which one would expect assuming someone would even survive being bashed in the upper body by a ball & chain).  I was trying to figure out what exactly about this conversation between the two men would lead G to such vivid and unpleasant imaginings.
He said no.  No bloody bandages.  I don't even think the old man had a cane.
He said he just thought this is what they were talking about.

When I continued asking gentle questions G said he almost cried when he saw the men talking because he doesn't want other people to get hurt.

Who knows the truth?  It could be that the police officer was an EMT who stopped in his ambulance to visit his grandpa who lives near the school.

It is at once so sweet to know that G is concerned for others and sad that a 6-year-old kid gets himself upset because his anxiety runs away from him.  

1 comment:

Keri said...

Wow. I can relate to G more deeply than I wish I could. I don't know if that kind of instant-runaway-imagination has been a part of your anxiety struggles, but it definitely has always been a part of mine, until very recently. This summer I learned something that might help G, if not now, then sometime down the road. I learned that my wonderful imagination is a gift, but I have allowed it to be hijacked by my fear, rather than controlling it for my own benefit. So now, after some practice, I can catch myself "writing" a scary script in my mind and stop myself -- almost by saying "STOP" in my head very loudly, if that makes any sense. Then I use my imagination purposely for something good, like picturing a dream vacation, or thinking of a favorite Bible story or scene from a novel and making it come alive in my mind. (If I was super creative, I'd come up with original stories to tell my kids at bedtime, but...I'm not.) I've actually taught Audrey to do this when she's lying in bed at night having scary thoughts, and she said it has worked for her somewhat. Since she's not that much older than G, maybe it would work for him now, or soon.

I realize my fear issues aren't the same exactly as what you're describing with him coming up with an alarming scenario in the scene from his school playground, but since I rarely have decent advice to share with anyone, I was excited that I might be able to help a bit. So I shared, for what it's worth.