Monday, February 15, 2016

Weight of the World

Evan is a worry wart. He worries about everything. He is the 'glass is half empty' kind of boy. He worried when we travelled without him, that the plane would crash. He worried when I was sick because I might be more sick when he lets on. Recently, his worries have become more concrete and it's been keeping him up at night.

We've been trying to encourage the twins to read the newspaper or watch bits of the news on television. Over the Chinese New Year, while out at lunch, Evan caught Channel News Asia on TV in the restaurant. While he couldn't hear anything, he could read that there had been an earthquake in Christchurch and Taiwan. He also saw glimpses of a documentary about the Paris attacks and something about the Zika virus. On top of that, he had read somewhere about MERS and Ebola. He knows there isn't a cure and that they die a horrible death and it's contagious.

His questions to me over the new year were whether Ebola existed in Singapore and what happens if we got Ebola in Singapore? Has there been anyone in Singapore that got infected by Ebola. I try and convince him we won't because we are not in the African continent.

"But what if...?" is his response.

I try many tactics.

I try to just hold him and explain to him the situation with just facts. We've managed to keep ourselves Ebola free very effectively.He wants to know if there is a cure. I tell him they're working hard on a vaccine and are almost there. "But no cure/ vaccine right now, right?" Sigh.

I try to use humour. No, you won't get MERS because you need a camel to sneeze on you. That got him to laugh but unfortunately, he knows that monkeys carry Ebola and there are monkeys all over Singapore and he knows it.

I try to explain to him that worrying about things didn't really work and often they made things worse. What would help him sleep and what would actually make things better if he could try and come up with solutions. In the short term, ways to help himself not worry about it (i.e. think through the facts - use logic) and in the long term, ways he could help other children and people who might worry about the same thing (i.e. we told him how scientists and researchers from other countries were trying to figure out the cure for Ebola). After all, he has said that he wants to be scientist.

I teach him to pray for God to take away his worries so that he doesn't need to think about them. He tells me God hasn't heard his prayers. I tell him that perhaps God wants him to do something about it because God's ways of answering prayers doesn't necessarily mean praying and the problem disappears!

When all else fails, I lie beside him at night and let him hold my hand tight while he tosses and turns till eventually he gives in to his tiredness.

I tell myself that it's not a bad thing that he worries because that means he's introspective and thinks about things. But it's hard to watch him struggle with these worries because he's a not yet 9 year old boy who has the weight of the world on his shoulders.


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