Little Michael and his parents traveled to the beach a few hundred miles away from their home town. Carol and John Henderson, Michael’s parents, were trying to find something to help little Michael. The nine year old boy had been through a traumatic time at his school. After the trauma, he had refused to ever go back to that school building. He was also afraid of leaving his house and of just about anything new. When someone came to the door of his house, he hid under his bed. Most of the time, he preferred to play in his room with his Legos.
Carol and John were at the end of their rope. They had tried everything and they couldn’t seem to help their precious son. They were so thankful that he wasn’t one of the victims at his school that they just wanted to keep him home and safe. They knew that the school shooting would scar him for life. They also knew that they needed to take some positive action to try to help Michael, so they planned a beach trip thinking that a change of scenery might help the little boy.
The Henderson’s were staying right on the beach. When they got to their hotel, they took Michael outside to play on the beach and see the ocean. The beach was crowded. Carol took Michael’s hand and led him to the edge of the water, hoping he would enjoy the ocean. She noticed that his eyes kept darting around the crowd at the beach and he refused to even get his feet wet. He just wanted to go back inside their hotel room. They walked right by a big bucket and spade that had been placed there for the kids to enjoy. Michael ignored it. He almost ran back to their hotel room.
Carol and John waited until the next day to try to lure Michael to the beach. They had conversations with him about his fears. No words seemed to help. Carol insisted that Michael try to beach again, so they once again took Michael outside. When they got outside, Carol noticed a small boy, Michael’s age, working on the beginning of a sand castle using the bucket and spade. Michael noticed him too and Carol saw his eyes light up. As they walked by the boy building the sandcastle, he stopped them to say hello. Michael walked over to him and watched him build the sand castle.
Finally, the boy asked Michael if he could play and would he like to help build the sandcastle. Michael jumped at the chance and the two children played all afternoon. After he came back to the hotel room, he was very quiet.
Later that evening, Michael said to Carol, ”Mom, my new friend had the same experience I did.” Carol asked what he meant. Michael went ahead to say, ”His school got shot up too, but it was a year ago. He felt like I feel. However, he has now gone back to school and wants to get to play again. I want to be like him.”
Carol had to turn away because of the tears in her eyes. For the first time, she had hope for Michael. As their week at the beach progressed, Michael, and his new friend, Gregory, played every day. One day when Carol was at the beach with Michael, she actually heard him laugh with Gregory. She also saw him and his friend stick their toes into the ocean. She felt like Michael was on the road to recovery.
After the family returned to their hometown, Carol and John put Michael into counseling. It was slow going with the little boy, but months later, he went back to school, but to another elementary school.
Michael’s scars will be permanent, As he grow up, he’ll realize that he was much luckier than some of the children that day. He came away with his life, but it will be different now. Michael told Carol that he wants to help other kids like Gregory helped him.