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My son has shown signs of depression lately, and I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not.  Lately he has been suggesting staying at his father’s because he has so much fun there.  He’s only there twice a month, so he has no chores or anything like that, and he gets bored here.

One morning he confided in me that when he wants to be happy, he pretends he’s going to his father’s. Hearing that really hurt because I feel as if I’m doing everything I can to pacify him. Yesterday, while speaking to my neighbor, the conversation turned to my concern about my son.  My neighbor appeared shocked as she moved aside and pointed to the concrete floor of her garage.  There, in front of a little cabin she and her husband had set up before moving to the lawn, were two words scratched haphazardly in chalk: “Need Help!”  My jaw hit the ground before I asked her if she knew it was my son that had inscribed those words.  He was the only one who knew how to write.

I returned home shaking and crying, wondering how to get him to open up; to talk about it with me.  Perhaps he would be better off at his father’s, at least he would be alive! I racked my brain trying to figure out how to get him to open up. I know that children committing suicide is becoming more and more frequent.  Nothing terrifies me more than having something so bizarre kill my child.

Coming home from school, I took a deep breath and pulled over to the side of the road, into the shade beneath a tree.  I rolled the windows down to get a breeze, trying as best as I could to make us comfortable (at least me!).

“How was school today?” I inquired.  

“It was okay. We had pizza,” not sounding too excited.  

“Did you do anything fun?”  The small talk continued until I built up my nerve to hear what I was afraid of.  “Our neighbor said someone wrote on her driveway with chalk. Was it you?”  He denied it until I mentioned how well he wrote, then he shamefully said he didn’t want to get in trouble. “It’s chalk,” I told him,smiling, “It washes off.”

Then I swallowed hard to spit out the rest, “Why did you write ‘need help‘?”

He coyly replied, “Because we were playing restaurant in the little cabin and I couldn’t spell ‘Wanted‘.”  I was confused until he told me the sign he wrote was for a waitress. They pretended they needed a waitress to apply for employment, like they saw on television.

I was so relieved, I began laughing like an idiot.  But I didn’t care.  Goes to show how much television impacts our kids and how they can interpret what they see.

Also, it let me be more aware that kids may be saying one thing, but meaning another.  So from now on, when I see something suspiciously frightening, I intend on getting the facts straight before jumping to conclusions.

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