By The Story Lover
I woke up and somehow, I was looking down on a teenage boy asleep in his bed. He looked sort of familiar, but I couldn’t figure out why. I gave up trying when I realized that the boy’s facial expression disturbed me. Instead of looking peaceful and relaxed, he looked tense and tormented. I looked around his room and, it looked like a typical teenage male’s room–a few clothes scattered around, some sports magazines on the floor, posters on the walls, a laptop on the desk, and a Flat Screen TV on the wall. While the clothes (hanging in his open closet) weren’t top of the line from Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, or PacSun, they were clean, well-made and all in one piece. There were even academic and athletic awards on one of the bookcases. From what I could see this kid had the whole world ahead of him and was in pretty good shape for what was to come. He had a roof over his head and most of the things that a boy could dream of, well except for a Hot Rod, and that could be outside. All in all, no visible reason for the look on the kid’s face or the tension in his body.
I kept thinking that I knew the kid, only when he began to say a prayer in his sleep, could I recognize him: it was me! I was looking at myself when I was fifteen; I was on top of the world except for one thing. My secret, the reason for the anguish on his face and this prayer every night: “Dear God, why didn’t you make me normal? Why did you have to make me gay? Why couldn’t you make me like girls instead of boys? You know my Dad hates Gays? He says it all the time. My Mom probably does, too, as she never contradicts him or tells him to stop. What am I going to do? Please help me?”
As he had done every night for several months, He/I then cried himself to sleep, 30 years later I cried with him.
Although the words above aren’t true in the sense that they actually happened, was a lot of us know these types of nights do happen and for far more nights than there should be. This piece was inspired by Cole Parker’s Story The Busboy, and for that reason, The Busboy is a story well worth reading. I read this story many years ago, and something made me go back and read it again. I am very glad that I did.
It has been written very many times that we don’t pay enough attention to those around us especially our children, and that is not a good thing. Too many of our children today suffer from depression, anxiety, and in some cases outright fear for their lives. In a large number of cases they are trying to tell us of their problems and either don’t know how to or we just aren’t looking or listening. In the story The Busboy, the main indicator is the eyes, but it was also in the slump of the shoulders, the downward-looking heads, and the lack of eye contact as well. Sometimes, it is also indicated by short one or two-word answers to questions; for example, you ask your child how they are doing, and they answer “fine” and then walk away. In other cases, it is a change in their behaviour and activities, they become listless, withdrawn, they stop playing sports or visiting friends. We as adults need to be aware of these signs in spite of how hectic our lives are at the time.
However, getting your children to open up about what’s bothering them isn’t always an easy thing to do; and, if you can manage to get them to open up, it is very important that you are prepared for whatever they tell you. If they do tell you something that you aren’t prepared for, or can’t handle, the worst thing that you can do is blow up or walk out. You need to tell them thank you for explaining the problem, and then tell them that you need some time to figure out a response, how to deal with the issue, or how to help them. However, you phrase it, you need to tell them that you still love them and, if you can, give them a hug and a smile.
No matter what the issue is, you CAN NOT let your own prejudices, feelings, or beliefs get in the way of helping your child. If you do, the odds are you will lose your child; one way or another. In The Busboy, Jim tries several methods until he gets through to both Jordy and Tristan; sometimes it will take a while, although sometimes you won’t be able to get through to your child (at all). In that case, it would behoove you to find someone that your child trusts to help you and your child ~~~, an Uncle, Aunt, older sibling, or teacher. Too many of our children suffer needlessly or take their own lives because someone didn’t either see the signs or didn’t find out what the problem was. So please, keep your eyes and ears open and give our children the help they need to lead their lives without fear, depression or anxiety.
Thanks for taking the time to read this please drop me an email at The Story Lover to let me know your thoughts about these words.
I have reread The Busboy recently and I totally agree, it is a must-read.
Dreams are often proven to be trying to tell you something.