perceptionI just sat down at a table in the student center to do some homework prior to going to class. Over my shoulder, there is a large flat screen television running CNN and breaking news. I don’t watch news often and, usually, I tune it out when it’s on. I have opted to put my earbuds in so I am not bombarded with the drama that pervades the newsrooms, but as I sat down, I glanced at the screen and read one line:

Kids’ first appearance since their “adventure.” They haven’t been told about their alleged abduction.

As I got my stuff ready for studying, I kept glancing at the television, the sound now silenced by the full, delicious orchestration of “Bond” music pouring through my headset. On the screen were two young boys, probably about five and seven years old. They were giggling, smiling, playing, and teasing one another. Acting like “normal” brothers who are simply at play.

I watched them play together and their full expressions of unbound joy. There was no fear in their eyes. They looked as though they truly had been on a safari of fun, not as though they had been “allegedly kidnapped.”

Then the cameraman panned out to show the seven adults flanking the children. They were all very tense, standing like stiff guardians of a secret treasure’s hiding place. Most of them were standing with their feet shoulder-width apart and their hands crossed and fingers linked in front of their genitals. The snapshot in my head has turned them into Secret Service agents.

And, in front of them, the boys are poking each other and laughing.

I am thinking about the line I read, “they have not been told about their alleged abduction.”

These boys have no idea that something “scary” has happened to them. They didn’t realize they needed to be scared because they had simply experienced it as an adventure. They didn’t know to be wary of strangers now because they didn’t know that they had a reason to. They didn’t realize that their lives could have been in jeopardy because no one had told them they had been.

There are some, I know, who would say that was dishonest to not tell them the truth of what had happened. Now, because I choose to not find out the details of this story, I have no real idea of what happened – but then, does anyone other than the people intimately involved?

Thing is, the boys are back. They are visibly uninjured or broken. They are whole and relaxed and even playful. They are still innocent and carefree because they have not been weighed down with the burden of the perceived drama they have just experienced.

There is much to be said for what you do and do not put in your head. Those adults could have scared the boys by regaling them with tales of how horrid the experience was. I’m guessing here, but I’m thinking that the adults went with the truth of what the boys presented them. When the boys returned, they appeared to be relaxed and unscathed. Upon their return, I imagine them being as happy and playful as they are exhibiting for the news. And, because they did not exhibit fear, they were not implanted with things to be scared about.

For me, as I pondered this story, I gained a deeper understanding about “what you think about, you bring about” and how the power of choosing to experience something as positive actually creates a positive experience out of something that could be tragic. In the situation of these boys, it seems – from the little I have caught of it – that they are none the worse for the adventure. It seems they don’t realize that something was “wrong.” To tell them otherwise may cause more damage than the actual experience itself.

To tell them they were “abducted” would connote that something “bad” had happened to them. If something “bad” had happened to them, it would elicit an appropriate emotional response that could spiral out of control. Telling them what had “really” happened could alter their perception of being on an “adventure” and instill fearful thoughts that grow into “problems” down the road.

I applaud the guardians of these boys who have chosen to keep the “alleged abduction” story silent for now. Those children deserve to be children and to believe that their adventure was simply that… an adventure. It is my belief that this approach will empower them, rather than deflate them because their brains are filled with a positive perception of something that could have otherwise been disastrous.

photo credit: Jesse Draper via photopin cc

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I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments. Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.

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