By Valerie Lake
“Hi Max, I’m Miss Beth. Your dad told me you are eight years old.”
Hunched in his chair, Max looks at his feet.
“When he called, I heard what he had to say. But let’s find out what YOU think about why you are here.”
“He thinks I’m crazy.”
“Most of the kids I see are not crazy, Max. They’re usually sad, mad, or scared. Does one of those fit for you?”
“No. I’m crazy.” He picks at some loose threads on the side of his chair and does not look at the counselor. She is still, waiting.
Max looks up briefly. “I suppose Dad told you he found out that I’ve been sleeping with the vacuum cleaner in my bed.” When the words have spilled out, he sits up straight, staring into Beth’s face.
“Hmm. Vacuum cleaners come in lots of shapes and sizes. Help me get to know your vacuum cleaner better. Is it one that has to be dragged along the floor or is it the type with a big bag that blows up when it’s running?”
“Big bag. I take the brush part off before I put it in my bed.”
“I bet there’s something warm and comfortable about that bag…”
“Yes! And it’s nearly full so it feels like a warm body.”
“Feels like whose body, Max?”
He looks down, tears welling up and running either side of his nose, lips trembling. He sniffs and wipes his face sideways with the sleeve of his sweater. Eventually, he looks up at Beth.
“Mom’s. It smells like her… like her hair smelled before it fell out. I think there’s some in the vacuum cleaner still.” He leans towards Beth and looks into her face. “Is that crazy or what?”
“No, Max. I wouldn’t call that crazy.”