I had a very interesting counseling session today; 7 year old Babu* was referred to me by a medical doctor who could not quite figure out what was going on in the boy’s little mind. Babu had me at hello; sweet, soft spoken, wide-eyed, doll-face. I smiled at him and he blushed as he tiptoed to hoist himself onto the chair next to his foster parent. His guardian handed over the referral notes to me and I skimmed through the doctor’s report, nothing alarming, but it had been noted that Babu carries with him an old plastic water bottle that he will not let go of. True to the report, he was clutching the bottle tightly against his chest even then.
‘’Hey! My name’s Veronica and I am your friend, what is your name?’’ I began.
‘’My name is Babu, ‘’ he looked up to me and responded shyly in his thick francophone accent.
His guardian went ahead to explain that the boy has been exhibiting abnormal behavior since they arrived in the refugee camp three months ago; he always carries the bottle wherever he goes and even sleeps with it. He guards it with all his heart like some sort of treasure and breathes fire whenever anyone threatens to take it away from him. We’re talking head banging, fist throwing, wild screaming tantrums, no joke!!! Sometimes he fills it up with water, drinking some and pouring some on his head as he holds some serious conversations with the bottle. And so his guardians were sure that the boy is round the bend mad!
I didn’t think so myself. I know its normal for young children to get attached to inanimate objects and imaginary friends; I mean, who wouldn’t want a friend that doesn’t talk back or argue with you and agrees to everything you say without criticizing, it’s amazing if you ask me!! Remember John and Plank from Ed, Edd and Eddy? Or Buttercup and her blankie from the Power Puff Girls? So Babu had his Bottle.
Okay okay, I wish it was that simple. You and I both know that there’s always an underlying issue. So the long short is that the boy lost both his parents to cruel ethnic clashes back at home and therefore feels desperate for a lasting emotional attachment to someone he can trust and love and be loved back without fear or question. And he finds that it in a useless bottle!!
I don’t blame Babu , sometimes I’m like that too; clinging desperately to figments of my imagination. Ideas and ideals that are farfetched and often unrealistic that leave me in a panicked anxiety when I think that I cannot achieve them. But I want to be free from fear, and embrace the love that I find in Christ.
So as I pray for Babu, I will also remember me; that both of us may know how precious, irreplaceable and fulfilling the love of Christ is. And HE will give us freedom from all the dirty, old plastic bottles on which we have wasted our precious hugs.
*Not his real name