I think everyone agrees that children teach us many lessons.
Through them we learn the meaning of true love, patience, and tolerance. One thing that’s certain, life with children is never dull.
One of my sons had struggled a bit with OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, while growing up. For those who don’t know, OCD is a condition that is mild enough to not really qualify as a disease, yet it causes quite a bit of discomfort, as the person affected is obsessed in repeating things until they get them perfectly. It could be categorized as a more severe case of nervous tics, and is often confused with Turrette Syndrome. During the time we tried to get this condition under control—until my son was old enough to learn how to control certain impulses—he was very uncomfortable with it, as he felt compelled to indulge certain mechanical actions repeatedly and was having difficulties at school because of it, both academically and socially.
Today, Michael no longer struggles with OCD. Time and therapy have worked their magic, and he is now in full control. The tics are gone, and the uncomfortable impulses toward achieving sheer perfection are a thing of the past.
Yet, that brief brush with OCD served a purpose in Michael’s life and, by extension, in the lives of the people close to him.
About a week ago, we were sitting in the kitchen having a cup of tea after Michael got home from school, and we were talking about all the things that had happened in his day.
He told me about a new child who just came to the school, and said that he feels bad for him because the new kid is different and others make fun of him. I asked why he felt the child was different, and Michael said that he “makes strange noises and odd faces.” He spoke about the times he has seen this kid sitting alone and people whispering around, snickering, and related this situation to the time in his life when he felt embarrassed around friends who made fun of him because of his condition. But what truly opened my heart was when Michael sat there, cup of tea in hand and big, blue eyes opened wide to convey a stronger message, and said that he might not feel so bad about this if he hadn’t experienced being ridiculed himself because of something he could not help.
Michael’s condition taught him compassion, and opened his eyes to the fact that one has to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, sometimes, to truly understand how others feel.
He understood that it is very painful to be shunned and made fun of, and also realized that some things can be overcome.
Since that conversation, Michael and the new child have become friends, and I am sure that this friendship will teach good things to both of them in the long run.
When talking about his future, Michael has always said he would like to be a songwriter, but he has now added a new idea. He mentioned that he would like to work in mental health care.
No matter what his future choices will be, I know he will be the best he can be at whatever he does.
And I know he will make a difference in someone’s life because, at a very young age, he found the key to the door of compassion.