What therapy is like

It was Thursday so the mother took her son to therapy. The boy was happy and eager, willing to please, until his Speech Therapist jarred him out of his Normal.

The therapist was a good therapist and knew that in order to help the boy to grow, he needed to be stretched.

She told him that she wanted to play with the blue pieces for their game, knowing that this was the boy’s favorite color.
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And the growing pains hit, violently.

The mother watched as her son shouted, ran away, threw a chair, slammed toys, was disrespectful, and hid behind a beanbag.

The mother knew what the therapist was trying to do, but the mother’s knuckles grew white on the edge of the table and her cheeks burned.

She wondered if she should do something.

But, like always, she didn’t know what to do, just like she never knew exactly what to do when the out-of-control hit, fast and illogical.

But they were in a safe, bright room with a patient professional so the mother didn’t pull out her tired bag of tricks. She didn’t try and fail and try again. She watched and held the weight of her emotions and his too.

Then–his voice still loud and insistent, he picked up the fallen chair, sat down, and put the green pieces on the board.

The mother pressed her fingers to her lips and blinked. Blinked. Blinked. Relief mingled with joy, clinging to slippery hope, and tinged with familiar shame.

But there was no time to cry. There was never time to cry.

Ten minutes of speech therapy had passed. It was a short storm.
The hurricane on Tuesday had been the better part of an hour. She still felt raw from Tuesday and the tears she blinked away today were the uncried tears from that tantrum too.

But the mother picked the yellow pieces, straightened her shoulders under the emotional weight that pressed down, down, and they played the game.

The boy won! He was happy.

“Are you okay?” The wise and observant speech therapist asked the mother as the boy ran down the hall to Occupational Therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was next after that. It was their long therapy day. Tuesday was their short therapy day).

“I am.” She replied, “I knew what you were doing. But it…it didn’t…It is hard to watch.”

Her son was doing all the work. But watching him struggle and grow was the mother’s struggle and growth too: A grueling emotional work out.

The therapist nodded. She knew. She had been watching the mother too.

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