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When a Boy Came Up to My Son During a Meltdown on Picture Day

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School picture day is usually a highlight for most students. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror weeks before the anticipated day, practicing my smile. Big or half smile? Teeth or no teeth? Which one is my best side?

When our homeschool group held its annual picture day, my son took his individual shots like a pro. We waited around for everyone else to finish, and then the call to gather all the children for the group picture came. This is when the tides began to shift.

The children were told to line up from tallest to shortest. Obviously, the older children knew what to do, but the younger ones, like my kids, looked lost and confused. The chatter amongst the adults and children grew louder, and when my son tried to call me for help, I didn’t hear him. He started to melt down. This is what it’s like to have auditory processing disorder.

Rearranging the students around for a group photo is to be expected, but when the photographer kept changing the spot where my son was to stand, that put him over the edge. In the middle of a sea of children, there was my child, frustrated and crying. God, please help me, I silently prayed as I tried to calm him down.

When everything was done, the walk back to the car seemed endless. I could no longer hold back my own tears.

During the incident when my son was crying, a boy his age reached out to him. “It’s OK,” he comforted. Afterwards when the children dispersed, this boy approached him again and gave him a hug. But my son wasn’t the only one who was the recipient of some needed encouragement. Two mothers came to me at the parking lot, hugged me and prayed with me. This was the good I believe God intended from a difficult situation: love through the selfless actions of others.

When we see someone in emotional distress, it’s not always easy to approach that person. We don’t want to get involved. We are at a loss for words. We are fearful of making it more awkward and worse for that person and for us. Often, we find it easier to turn the other way. The boy and the mothers did the harder thing. They came to us. And we were blessed by it.

Originally published: June 30, 2016
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