Shortly after she began meeting with her therapist, Maggie, seven-year-old Wanda* began referring to their weekly sessions as “Maggie time.”
As a child she used her time to play and draw as she chattered. Wanda is now fourteen and the play has fallen by the wayside and the chatter has turned into more thoughtful conversation. Her therapist explains that “Maggie time” is just part of Wanda’s regular routine.
Wanda was placed with her great aunt following her mother’s suicide attempt. Although her aunt’s health has declined over the years, she and Wanda have recently been called upon to help care for an aging uncle. This has necessitated a move from a rural area into a small apartment in a town near Wanda’s biological mother. Wanda’s mother also suffers from serious health problems and does not adequately care for herself. Nevertheless, Wanda is determined to “give her a chance.”
Despite having to spend significant after-school time to care for her caretakers, Wanda maintains good grades with every intention of attending college. Maggie describes her as a talented musician who practices diligently and takes great pride in her performances.
Like most teenagers, Wanda values the time she spends with her friends. She explains to Maggie that having friends of different ethnic backgrounds is important, as she explores issues arising from having parents of different races. With Maggie, she thoughtfully considers where she fits in and tries to understand what makes her feel comfortable in some groups or with some people and not with others.
Maggie recalled that one day not long ago Wanda talked about being invited to participate in a discussion group at her school. She described the conversation and her contributions. After a while Maggie commented that Wanda had done such an amazing job of articulating her thoughts and feelings. Wanda responded: “What do you expect? I’ve been seeing you for seven years!”
What an amazing “thank you.”
* The child’s name has been changed and identifying information has been eliminated.
By Toni Heineman