My son’s best friend ended up in the hospital last weekend. He’d taken some pill, he mumbled. And then he was falling down in class. Talking gibberish. Having hallucinations. Passing out. Soon his dad came and he was rushed away. Some pill. Nobody seemed to know what. My son was shaken. Rumors spread. His friend’s father, a police officer, came back to the school frightened and enraged. “Who gave my son a pill! Who did it?! What was it?” My husband, summoned by Simeon, was also there. Listening. Comforting. Asking questions. Nobody had answers. Or no one who had them gave them.
This is a good kid. I take him to school with my son almost every day. I know his dad. He calls me mom. And that morning, like every other morning he seemed just fine. I kept asking why. Why did he take it? What was he thinking? Didn’t he know better? What went wrong? What did my own son know? Lot’s of questions.
But an interesting thing happened. My husband had come by my job after leaving the school to give me the news. He was distraught. So was I. And as soon as I went back into the office I went looking for cookies. No big deal, right? I was upset. Frustrated. I needed a cookie. Because I wanted not to feel so bad. It was a couple of days later that it hit me — when I felt bad I went looking for something to take so that I would feel better. Just like my son’s friend. Sure mine was a cookie and legal. But whenever I look outside of myself for some THING to take to feel better I’m engaging in the same kind of activity. I know — it sounds like a stretch. But I’ve been thinking — the best way for me to teach positive choices in the face of stress, pain or difficulty, is to model positive ways of dealing with them. Positive actions, not negative ones. So, I’ve determined to pray when I feel stressed. To make a conscious effort to be still and say a prayer instead of reaching for something that doesn’t serve me. No this doesn’t solve the problem. But it’s a start. The best way to teach our children that there are positive ways to handle stress is to handle it positively ourselves.
My son’s friend was back in school this week. “How’s it going for him?” I asked Simeon. Any consequences from the administration? ” Sim said, “Mom, he’s not a pill popper! He hurt his shoulder in football practice and he was just looking for something to help it feel better.” “Oh,” I responded. “Well, what about the other kids?” “Well,” he said, “They all are calling him ‘the kid who O-D’d”
This is my prayer to deal positively with stress: “May we be filled with loving kindness. May we be well. May we be peaceful and at ease. May we be happy.” Thanks Ifetayo!
The picture is from Coca-Cola’s 2009 Black History Campaign