Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trauma counseling

Maybe I am a minority of one, but I am getting totally fed up of the so called ‘trauma counseling’ that is being forced on kids by well-meaning-but-totally-out-of-touch schools.
The first day he went to school after the November Terror Attacks, my older one came home with a long letter detailing exactly how we as parents can help our kids come to terms with the trauma of the attacks. Neither of my sons seemed particularly disturbed by what they witnessed on T.V. so I just balled the letter and chucked it into the dustbin.
I thought I had heard the last of it, but I was just being too optimistic. Last week, the school urged us to get the children to talk about their fears following the attack, and to try and put the fears in context so they would not be traumatized by it. To my kids, those three days had been a holiday– no school, no office, no Mamma yelling at them not to do things – the only trauma associated with those days would have been the fact that the adults just did not let them watch as much T.V. as they would have liked to.
I did the best thing possible and just ignored the second directive too. But apparently, the school is not willing to let things be – they are trying to get the children to draw about those days, so they can pinpoint the exact fears and address them. While some kids co-operated and drew buildings on fire and commandos or terrorists with guns, my son apparently drew a couple of superheros. What could the child be thinking of, the school asked me.
“Maybe he is trying to say that only Superheros can save the city?”, I volunteered tentatively. I intended to be sarcastic, but they took me seriously. I am now supposed to spend at least an hour everyday reassuring my son that the police would take care of him, and there will be no repeat of the attacks.
I have assured the school that I will definitely do so, but I know fully well I will not. For one, I do not believe in lying to my kids, and since I am not at all convinced that the police or the intelligence or the army or the paramilitary forces would be able to protect the city in case of a second attack, I am not going to tell my kids that.
But more to the point, we live in a society where anything can happen anytime. You can hide from the fear, or you can deny it to yourself, or you can accept that the reason for the fear exists and put it behind you as you get on with your life. I choose to do the third, as do most people I know – why should I want my kids to be any different?
And yes, I do need trauma counseling, but the trauma I need counseling from is the trauma inflicted by this so called trauma counseling.

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