Tag Archives: school

Inside The Therapit’s Office: Episode Three

Office

 

“Your next appointment is here” My assistant announced.

“Al Salam Alaykom Adam!” I greeted the grumpy teenager. “So how was your weekend?”

“Yeah, whatever!” Adam spit out. “Let’s get this over with!”

 

He sunk into the chair across of me and took out his earphones, totally uninterested in what I had to say. “What’s your wifi password?” He asked.

“Listening to music, ha? Why don’t you put it on speaker and we can listen together” I suggested.

“I thought you were an Islamic psychologist! Isn’t listening to music ‘haram’ like everything else in this world?” He mocked.

“Well… that’s one way to look at it. But now if everything is ‘haram’ the word ‘halal’ wouldn’t exist, now would it?” I smiled.

“Cut it out! We both know I’m here only coz I got suspended! So how about you tell me what it is I need to say or do for you to sign this slip. I can’t miss the finals this year! My gramps promised me a sports car if I graduate high school!”

“What about your parents?” I asked.

“What about them? They’re cool either way! I wouldn’t know really. I hardly see them….” Adam shrugged. From the innocent look on his face, I could tell his mind had wandered far back into the past….

 

“I said I want my mommy!” Little Adam stomped his feet. It’s been six days in row now, and his nanny was honestly too tired to come up with cover stories on why his mom had disappeared.

“Go watch TV till your dad comes. He said something about taking you out for ice cream!” She sighed.

 

“Hey buddy, what you watchin’?” Adam’s dad walked in three hours later.

His dad had been weirdly nice and attentive this past week, Adam thought.

Ten minutes later he found out why….

“Listen Adam… Something came up. I’m gonna have to move to a different country for work. But I promise I’ll try to come see you as much as I can!” His dad explained.

Adam soon discovered ‘as much as I can’ actually meant ‘a couple of days every other year’. His dad was a workaholic. He lived and breathed for his job, neglecting everything else including his beautiful lonely wife and only son. He figured showering them with gifts would make up for his non-existence. Sadly, Adam’s dad had no idea the more money he gave, the emptier his family felt inside….

 

“Mom! Wake up! I need you to sign my report card!” Adam said. “Come on, I’m late for school!”

“Let granpa sign it!” His mom slurred.

“Why?” Adam asked. He had secretly wished his mom would see it and praise him for his good grades. Fifth grade is hard you know!

“Coz I said so!” His mom snapped.

“Good one mom! You should be a lawyer!” Adam stormed out.

 

She was either sleeping, watching TV or out with her weird friends. His mom was obviously not interested in motherhood, so why should he worry about being a good son? You know what? The hell with it, he thought! Adam quickly went from being a straight A student to being an A class bully, surrounded by corrupt friends and hardly passing his tests. The school principle was one of the few people who believed in Adam, and was devastated to see such a bright talented boy spiral out of control. He was given another chance on one condition! He must seek therapy….

 

 

“Where do you see yourself in ten years Adam?” I asked when he put his I-pod away.

“Successful! Rich! Travelling around the world on my private jet” he replied.

“But do you have a plan to make those dreams come true? I’m sure you know how the saying goes. ‘Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow’” I added.

“I dunno” Adam shrugged. “But I’m sure I’ll find a way! I always do!”

“Okay I’ll tell you what! If you can tell me the three ingredients of success, I’ll sign this slip and you’ll be free to go! Pretty sweet deal, no?” I challenged.

“Just like that?” He asked suspiciously.

When I nodded, Adam walked to the big white board and started scribbling , before listing them all beautifully. I knew the seed of knowledge was in there somewhere.

 

  • Time:
    Successful people have one thing in common. They respect each tick of the clock! They’re never late, never waste time and their schedule is perfectly managed and organized. If they have an important meeting, they make sure they’re there before it starts.
  • Practice with Passion:
    Successful people are fully dedicated to their goals. They’re focused, consistent, and determined. They’re always practicing and reviewing to stay on top of their game.
  • Humility:
    Successful people are respectful and humble enough to learn.

 

I crossed my arms and stared at Adam, hardly able to control my proud smile.
“Yeah, I read a lot!” He said, blushing a little bit.

“Well, since you turned out to be a genius, I have a couple more questions!” I added.

“But that wasn’t part of the deal!” Adam complained.

“Well, now it is, so sue me!” I said. “Do you pray?” I asked.

“Sometimes!” Adam replied. “My gramps drags me to Friday prayer every week!”

“What if I tell you that you’ll never be successful if you don’t pray!” I asked.

“I’ll prove you wrong!” Adam replied. “Lots of people don’t pray, yet they roll in piles of money! Many have received awards, or have the coolest jobs, or have so much power and they don’t even pray!”

“If success is another word for wealth and power, then would you consider the drowned Pharaoh successful?” I asked. “Us Muslims, we know better! Success is is true joy inner peace Adam, and no money in the world can buy you that!”

“But what does praying have to do with that?” Adam asked.

“When we fail or make a mistake in our job, we tend to avoid our boos, or the person in charge. And when we fail in life, when we sin or go astray, some of us abandon prayer coz they’re too ashamed to run to Allah. But only those who want to succeed have the perseverance to keep trying. Only successful people are never late for their most important meetings in their lives; ‘salah’, they practice their faith with passion and they stand humbly before their Lord. Those are the ingredients of success in this world and the Hereafter, and that’s why it’s the second pillar of Islam and the essence of our faith. Without this connection to Allah, we have no identity whatsoever!” I said as I signed the school slip and handed it to Adam.

“That’s it?” He asked.

“You can watch success from far or you can become it! It’s your choice.” I said.

 

Adam walked out towards what I’m sure would be a bright future inshAllah, for one cannot un-see the truth after seeing it so clearly. I went home feeling so peaceful, and came back to the office the next day all bright and shiny for my next appointment.

 

“Leave the door open, please” I instructed my assistance, before my patient started relating his story.

 

“I have the perfect life! And yes I pray five times a day! I’ve reached my goals! I have a loving family, more money than I can count, fame, wisdom, health… you name it! I’m the billboard ad for success! All my dreams came true yet my life is a nightmare! I have an invisible illness no one can diagnose! You say you help people find their path to peace and happiness? I have found it and I’m STILL SO UNHAPPY!” My patient slammed the desk violently.

“Okay, take a deep breath Mr. Ramzy. Calm down” I said.

“Don’t tell me to calm down! FIX IT!” He yelled.

 

 

To be continued….

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published On Productive Muslim
22nd August, 2015
This is the original version

Please Stop Pretending And Just Face It!
There’s Nothing ‘Special’ About Special Needs!

Me and Sino

Trouble lurked on the horizon….

Not only was the cute little girl crying at the top of her lungs; she was wearing a RED T-shirt! Those were all the triggers my son needed to attack her….
And even though I’m known to have the memory of a gold fish, and this one incident happened many years ago, I still remember it vividly…

It was supposed to be a beautiful day. We were at the playground and I had that extra sense of triumph of having everything under control. No sandboxes in sight. Check. My baby girl’s milk bottle was tinted because my son can’t stand looking at milk or any other white liquid. Check. We were sitting in the sun as far away as possible from babies and loud families. Check. My son was wearing Velcro shoes, all-cotton clothing with tags all cut out and he never had any sugar, fruits or ketchup, so according to my calculations, the chances of him acting up were pretty low that day.

I was miserably wrong…

Even though it was a split second, it all happened in slow motion.

I was holding my son’s hand and carrying my baby girl in the other arm. The sounds of the cries echoed in my ears and I saw the look on my son’s face change. I quickly put my baby in her stroller as I felt his jaws clench and his little hand squirming away from my tight grip. He ran like a tiger towards the innocent cute girl and I knocked over a chair trying to catch up with him. I finally grabbed him from his shirt before he reached the girl, whom at this point had stopped crying from the shock of what was about to happen, yet still had forgotten her mouth and eyes wide open. Her mom started screaming which aggravated my son even more as he took out his anger on me. He slapped me hard on the face, swearing all kinds of obscenities then kicked me in the stomach. Amidst the chaos I motioned to the mom to take her girl and walk away, hardly missing the dirty look she gave me.

“Some women are just not allowed to be mothers!” I heard her tell her friends who also turned around to stare me down.

I bolted my son with my arms only to find another woman tapping me on the back and handing me my screaming daughter.
“You really shouldn’t leave your baby unattended” She said with disgust. “It’s not her fault you can’t control your son!”

I thanked her with an inaudible whisper before deciding to never return to the playground again. My tears rolled down all the way home, not even feeling the pain of my son’s teeth digging into my skin. Biting at that time was one of the few skills he used to calm himself down.

I mustered all my energy to get through the tantrums and breaking of stuff, guarding my daughter’s life from my son’s sudden unexpected blows till bedtime. Then I sat alone in the corner, just staring at the wall in utter silence, too drained to cry….

After all, it was supposed to be a beautiful day….

Today I come undone…

I’m not a writer or a psychologist or the ‘happy girl’ most people know me as. Today I’m just a defeated mother who is tired of pretending she’s strong enough to handle this challenge. Today I only want to sit with moms like me, who are tired of listening to people say “God gave you a ‘special’ child because you’re a special mom”, or “You’re blessed with a rare gift”. I want to hug the moms holding back their tears and screams as they watch their disabled children struggle through life, rejected, ridiculed and shunned by a society they can’t possibly fit in. I want to pause this roller coaster of emotions everyone thinks we are gifted and lucky to be on. Today I stand on solid ground holding hands with my own kind, and I ask with all honesty…
How does a mother of a normal child feel when she hears he’s being bullied at school? How would you feel if your child is never invited to birthday parties or family gatherings? If your friends are scared of your little son or daughter? If doctors tell you your child will never be able to go to college or work or drive or get married? We all know it’s in Allah’s hands in the end, but how would you feel hearing it…?

Perhaps people think raising a child with special needs is a gift… But how can a gift give you so much pain? How can a blessing break your heart…?

Denial Drags Us Down

With a wide spectrum of disorders ranging from ADHD to Autism and Down Syndrome, every child is different and no ‘one solid advice’ will cut it. Medications have catastrophic side effects and some disorders have no known cures yet. I remember after two weeks of constant testing, how uncomfortable the neurosurgeon was when he said, “You need to come to terms with your son’s reality. Sugarcoating the truth will only set you up for a huge disappointment. Therapy can help him cope but no one can heal him completely.”

“God can heal my son. Miracles happen every day!” I replied with conviction.

And so I held on to my faith. I still put him in mainstream schools, got him shadow teachers and demanded he gets the academic education he deserved. Denial was the only tool I had at my disposal until the powers of it ran out. I prayed for miracles but nothing changed. I stayed up night after night asking Allah for help, my tears flowing non-stop as I begged and pleaded and supplicated for a solution….

“Mommy, what are you doing?” My son asked one day.
“I’m talking to Allah, asking Him for help with something.” I said, wiping my tears.
“I want to talk to Allah, too” My son said. “I want to ask Him not to make you sad anymore.”

“Allah loves us so much and He is so Kind! Do you really think He would want to make anyone sad?” I asked.

Hearing myself say those words, hypocrisy stared back at me with a smirk. If I was so sure of Allah’s love, which I am, then why was I sitting here feeling sorry for myself like I’m being punished for something I didn’t do? Why was I trying to convince Allah that I have unwavering faith and then break down when He tests it?

“I will tell Him I don’t want a sad mom!” My son interrupted my thoughts. “Give me Allah’s phone number!”

My son’s innocence replaced my bitterness with laughter. That day I stopped waiting for a miracle, for I realized that you can’t hope to swim without getting wet, you can’t pass an exam without studying, and you can’t jump high without bending your knees. I realized we need genuine faith for miracles to happen and so I stopped begging Allah not to test me, because big rewards require huge efforts. And I’m truly desperate for the biggest reward of all… seeing Allah’s face in Heaven….

It’s Not What You See It’s How You See It

I wish I had a magic wand or a specific piece of advice to help every parent reading this article, but each case is just as unique as each of our children’s needs, and it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out a productive pattern that works. I do have something else to give though, and once you allow yourself to see it with your heart, you’ll realize it surely does put your mind to rest…

“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief…” (94:5-6, Holy Qur’an)

God Almighty never said we won’t face difficulties in this life, but He promised He will put ease in every hardship. Not before or after hardship, but along side of it. For every negative there must be a positive to balance it out, otherwise we would have collapsed a long time ago. It’s not the problem that’s affecting us, it’s how we deal with the problem that’s making it that much harder. It’s us being too drained to search for the comfort within the suffering that’s making us sad and broken. Us not seeing Allah’s blessing doesn’t mean it’s not there.

So allow me to share my personal endurance guide, complied after over ten years of downfalls and endless drama….

The Seven Rules Of Survival:

  • Ask God to help you through this.
    Ceaselessly. Consistently.
    Pleading while making sincere du’aa works!
  • Stop resisting and start accepting. Your life has changed so don’t go against the current. When necessary, adjust your schedule, outings and behavior according to your child’s special needs. If your child is aggressive, you’ll have to think of other kids’ safety and keep him or her away. Special needs schools are your best option. Trained professionals will guide you on how to create a new, easier lifestyle.
  • Put your ego on the side. Apologize and explain your child’s condition to strangers when things get rough. I found that people become very sweet and helpful once they understand the situation.
  • For God’s sake take a break before you break down. Spoil yourself every now and then with a spa, alone time, or some fun with your friends. Find a trusted someone to take care of your child even if it’s for a couple of hours once a week. Your child will be okay don’t worry. Well-rested parents make better parents.
  • Join support groups, look up nearby facilities that provide activities for special needed kids, and share tips with other parents who are going through the same struggle. It’s soothing to realize you’re not alone in this. I personally met wonderful families through organizations like ‘Unique’ (rarechromo.org) and Autism Speaks (www.autismspeeks.org)
  • Don’t forget your other children! You’re not the only one carrying this load; your special child’s siblings are carrying it too. Let them voice out their feelings and get the emotional support they need before asking them to help out or cooperate.
  • I firmly believe that every child, with special needs or not, has a unique talent gifted by The Great Lord. Find that genius flair and pursue it to the fullest. (Now that’s just me, but I believe my son is super talented in soccer he is destined to be the next Messi inshAllah). Maybe some of our kids don’t have the mental capacity to believe in themselves, but us parents have enough faith and will to believe in them…

Truth Is Very Different From Reality:

I remind myself before anyone else to zoom out and see the bigger picture. All this agonizing sorrow is perhaps a darker shade within a colorful portrait. The test is only a means to achieve a goal we chose. We can either resist the harsh reality or accept the blessed truth behind it. We can complain and scream “Why Me?”, wasting precious productive years of our lives, or we can accept that life in this world was never meant to be perfect and realize it’s only those with great stamina and perseverance that can reach the top, and finally enjoy that breathtaking view…

A man once asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “Which of the people is tried most severely?” He said: “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them. A man is tried according to his religion; if he is firm in his religion, then his trials are more severe, and if he is frail in his religion, then he is tried according to the strength of his religion. The servant shall continue to be tried until he is left walking upon the earth without any sins.” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2398)

Loud and clear my beloved Prophet… Loud and clear…

“Okay fine!” I suddenly giggle like a little child. “Perhaps we are special after all…”

Lilly S. Mohsen