I just got home tonight from our Boy Scout meeting. We visited a local police station for one of our achievements towards C.S.'s Bear rank, Law Enforcement is a Big Job.
Now, I knew this would be stressful for C.S. Most situations involving any type of tension are, even just the mention of it can provoke a reaction from him. But honestly, since he's been on medication, he's been so very pleasant and his moods so mild, I really didn't expect this visit to be too terribly problematic. He was even excited as we walked up to the entrance, flapping his hands as we greeted one of the other parents.
Once we walked into the lobby though, it was as if the energy of the place gradually seeped into his awareness and chilled his bones. By the time we left the lobby, walked through the door and down a hall, he began whimpering. I help his hand, which helped a little.
Our first stop was the roll call room. Desks, chairs, a podium, at first glance I could not see what there was to frighten him. But, he wouldn't sit in the front row with the other boys, he sat in the very back with me. He hid his face. He couldn't look at the officer. Even though he was simply encouraging them to stay in school and in scouting. Then I realized, he also couldn't look at the faces on wanted posters on the walls. Quietly, C.S. continued whimpering beside me.
In the hallway, the officer described what happened if someone sent a threatening email. He described a scenario of policemen arriving at a home, arresting a teen and confiscating the parent's computer in such vivid and somewhat sensational detail, C.S.'s whimper rose to wail and he began crying. He fell face first into me and I held him.
Thankfully, the kids didn't laugh or giggle. The parents kept respectfully quiet. I pulled him aside. I calmed his fears the best I could with squeezy hugs and quiet words. When we returned to the group, I briefly explained in response to the empathetic expression of the only other mother there and then to the fathers, that he imagines a scenario so fully. He visualizes it all and it is overwhelming and upsetting to him. I joked a little, saying he knew exactly how I'd respond if someone confiscated my computer and that was truly frightening!
But he was able to pull himself together. And although he was anxious not only about imagining such intense situations, but also the feel of the ink and the dirt, he allowed himself to be fingerprinted. The officer was handling this odd child beautifully. Deliver a mix of fun rough and tumble to most of the boys and even keeled confidence to this one that was so obviously unsure.
And the tour continued. We saw the police car and the jail cells. The officer knew how to play around with the kids, jokingly locking them in the back of the car with the bars on the window, pretending to leave them there where they couldn't get out. C.S. stayed close to me. We went to the dispatch area where 911 calls are received. We discussed what to do in case of an emergency. C.S. even raised his hand to participate. But it was then that he also began pacing.
Finally, I led him away from the group. We paced in the hall for a little. We opened the door and let the damp, foggy night air cool his face. He was tired and anxious and ready to go. He stood out the whole time, but he had given it a good go and I was proud of him.
Silver Lining: C.S. will probably never experience anything like most boys. He doesn't play sports now or perhaps ever. He'll probably never attend a frat party or tail gate before a football game. But I feel most confident, that tonight's tour was the only way he'll ever see the inside of a police station. He's just to sweet and gentle are caring. He won't get into trouble with the law. He's just not like most boys.