Folks, the story I am about to tell you is allegedly a TRUE story--it happened right here in Richmond (it makes me almost as proud as when I found out the "Balloon Boy" was from my hometown of Fort Collins, CO...). The story is about a healthcare professional (who works with a friend of a friend) and her sixteen year old son. Her son (we will call him Randy for simplicity's sake) is autistic--though highly functioning and usually does just fine at home by himself. But this day, about a month ago, was a different story...
While at work that evening, the lady received a phone call from Randy--who was home alone:
"Mom," said the urgent voice, "I trapped a troll in the closet, and you need to come home now"
"I can't come home," his mother replied, "I am at work." A bit strange, she must have thought, but not enough to compel her away from her job.
An hour rolls by, and her phone rings again:
"Mom, I trapped a troll in the closet, and you need to come home now"
"I'm at work," explained the exasperated Mom, "I can't come home."
Minutes later her phone rang again:
"Mom, I trapped a troll in the closet, and I am feeding it m&m's under the door. You need to come home now!"
This time the Mother decided she better go home and check things out.
She pulled up the drive, walked in the front door, and followed her son to the locked closet door, where there was indeed evidence of Randy sliding chocolate candies under the door.
But nothing--nothing--could prepare her for what she found behind the locked door...
a midget! Yes, a midget!
During his door-to-door rounds as an employee for the Census Bureau, this midget had found himself in an unfortnate situation when he crossed paths with young Randy who mistakenly took him for a troll! The mortified mother apologized profusely and begged for no charges to be pressed against the over zealous, ill-informed--yet well intentioned--teenager.
So why do I tell you this story??--aside from the obvious hilarity (once you get past the fact that an innocent man spent a few hours held captive in a stranger's closet...and the political incorrectedness of the whole situation).
I tell you because once I stopped laughing (initially, at least...I am still laughing!), I felt an odd camaraderie with Randy. I find myself feeling genuine compassion for the boy because he was just doing what he thought was right. He had good intentions. He was trying to protect himself and his loved ones from what he perceived as a threat.
He was scared.
And yet, he was very wrong.
In the story of my child's life, I very often play the part of the young man...and a host of innocent people, things, ideas, practices, etc. become the troll. I know what it is like to feel threatened by something--to be afraid of something--and to feel compelled to do something about it...to not be able to let it go...to be consumed by it...to feed it and fuel it (ok, so not with the world's most delicious candy, but with other very good things--like my time, my energy, my joy, and my sanity!).
And then, to find out in the end, that the threat was really not a threat at all--it was just something different, something I had never seen before, something I didn't understand, something out of my comfort zone. It's a hard pill to swallow...to be so convinced that (fill in the blank) is bad for Augustine, to fixate on it, to try to pin it down and fix it, to think irrationally and give it my time and energy...and then, just short of losing my sanity, to realize there is nothing to fear after all.
I put so much energy into fighting fights that don't need fighting...like Randy, who locked up the harmless man from the Census Bureau.
I admit, I am an overzealous, yet well intentioned, Mom. But, I pray that I can learn to handle my fears better with each passing day...
...sometimes instead of locking them up, we need to let our trolls go free...