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Friday, January 18, 2013

Penguin Stress

This week we had a consult with the oral surgeon who will remove 6 of Ben's teeth and 6 of Jonah's. Apparently there is nothing more the orthodontist can do to create more space in their mouths, so this is our last resort. The surgeon seemed great and I'm confident the boys are in good hands. 

Jonah, however, is understandably terrified. As I was checking out today at the surgeon's office, and making the appointment for the surgery, Jonah completely fell apart. I expected it to happen, just not until we got to the car. He just couldn't hold it in any longer. He turned white, started crying, panicking and hyperventilating. True panic attack stuff. Poor guy. I tried to calm him down as best I could while finishing the business part of checking out as fast as I could. 

We managed to get to the car and on the ride home I tried to calm Jonah's nerves. Didn't really succeed, but I tried. We're having the surgery on January 29th, and Jonah will be first in order to get it over with. The surgeon can do both boys' surgeries on the same day, so that is extremely helpful for our family logistics. One of Ben's teeth that will be pulled is actually wiggly right now, so on the way home I told him to try and get it out! Because if Ben pulls it, it's a free tooth removal. If the surgeon pulls it, we have to pay an arm and a leg for it. The surgeon told the boys that with all the teeth they'll lose that one day, they might be able to buy a new car! Ha. Maybe a Matchbox car.

Even though I know Jonah is feeling extremely anxious about many things in his life right now, and wonders if he will ever feel better or "ok," this is how I know he will actually be fine.

Alex brought home a bunch of funny-shaped stress balls for the kids. Jonah got his favorite- a penguin. He has a whole collection of Everything Penguin. He took the stress ball to school the other day. 

When he came home from school, Jonah told me about a friend in his class who had been very upset about taking a test that day. The friend had been crying and just really freaking out. Jonah thought to himself that he knew how his friend felt, and offered his friend his brand new penguin stress ball as a gesture of compassion.

I couldn't believe my son's empathy and concern for his friend, even in the midst of so many challenges of his own. Jonah showed me that even though he is struggling on many fronts, he has some incredible, important Secrets that are hidden under all the challenges he faces each day. Secret compassion for his friends who struggle. Secret love for his siblings. Secret courage to leave our home every morning and head off into the World of Anxiety. Secret willingness to help others in need. These secrets come to the surface whenever Jonah is able to shake off his struggles and remember who he really is. Jonah will always be who he has always been: a sweet, sweet, sensitive soul. 

Jonah's sensitivity is his greatest strength and the area that causes him the most pain. He feels things deeply and the world can get under his skin and suck out his Joy. But I know he will be ok. We're working to give him every tool possible to build his Invisible Armor Against Anxiety, so he can hold on to the joy that lives at the core of his spirit. 

I was so proud of Jonah for feeling sympathetic and compassionate for a fellow anxiety-sufferer, and for offering his friend a very special token of understanding. Even in the middle of his own pain, he recognizes others' needs and acts to change their pain. That's how I know my sweet boy will be ok.

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