There was a lovely family in the apartment complex where I grew up who was loved by many. They always had good food and were more than willing to share them with everyone. Mrs. Lopez even saved many parents in the building from daycare centers because she opened her doors to the little kids whose moms and dads had nowhere to leave their children as they go to work.
When I said that the Lopez family was loved by many, I only meant the elderly couple. It did not extend much to their only child, Luna. Luna was around my age, and she grew up to become an average teenage girl who craved going to parties more than anything in the world. And as an only child, she was used to getting her way out of everything.
But then, one day, gossip buzzed throughout the apartment complex. We heard that Mr. Lopez had enough of Luna’s antics and disowned her. Later, we found out why: she got pregnant at 16 years old.
When The Prodigal Daughter Returned
Two years already passed, and no one thought that we would see Luna come back. However, I saw her come up the building on a Wednesday afternoon with a toddler. I didn’t see much of the child’s features, but it was safe to assume that that’s the same kid she was carrying in her womb when her father threw her out.
After an hour, Mrs. Lopez was knocking on our door. When I opened it, she hugged me and said, “My Luna came home with this little angel. Can you watch her for a minute so that we could talk to her mother?”
That’s only when I saw the child – a little girl named Charlie – for the first time. She was so cute with her golden locks and porcelain skin. I said hi to her, and she did not reply, but I thought that most kids around that age were a bit shy.
The family discussion turned out to be fruitful as Luna moved back in with her parents on the same day. She apparently promised to clean up her act and start working hard to provide for her child.
Love And Concern For Charlie
Luna’s return allowed the entire apartment complex to get to know Charlie. Everyone grew to love that little girl. She was pretty and quiet; she did not act up like the other kids. However, some concerned individuals mentioned that Charlie was too quiet for her age and kept to herself most of the time.
Back then, I was already a sophomore in college, taking up psychology. Though my expertise was still lacking, I saw some possible signs of autism in Charlie. I let another year pass before I voiced my concerns to Mrs. Lopez as I gave the child the benefit of the doubt. Some kids develop slower than others, after all.
To my surprise, Mrs. Lopez said that she had been noticing the same symptoms in the house as well. She wasn’t just not saying anything in hopes of them going away on their own.
“Perhaps you could discuss this with Luna during dinner, and then I will accompany you to a child psychologist that I know,” I offered.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Lopez told me that she would not go through with the consultation the next day. “Luna took it badly,” she confessed. “My daughter accused me of not loving my grandchild for wanting to have her seen by a psychologist.”
I felt terrible for Mrs. Lopez upon hearing that, but I honestly felt worse for Luna. She was clearly in denial. It was pretty certain that she had seen the symptoms in Charlie, too, but she refused to believe that her child needed help. I dropped by the restaurant where she was waitressing so that we could have a chat.
Counseling A Parent In Denial
Though Luna and I were never friends, we were cordial to each other. When she saw me waiting outside the restaurant, she came up to me and agreed to go to the nearest cafe.
After a few small talks, Luna opened up about the situation at home.
“Mama must have told you about her wish of taking my daughter to a child psychologist,” she started.
“I suggested it to her,” I admitted, “But please don’t take it the wrong way. You will be able to help Charlie better when you know what’s going on with her.”
Luna sighed. “I know what you mean. I also know something’s wrong with my baby’s behavior. But letting a doctor see her means that I’m accepting that I failed Charlie. I failed as a mother.” With that, silent tears flowed down her cheeks.
It was the first time I witnessed how much Luna matured, and I could not help but feel sorry for her. I decided to extend the counseling duties I took on during summer break at the university hospital and counseled Luna. I helped her accept that she could not have prevented her child’s mental condition. All she could do was ensure that Charlie was getting all the help she needed.
A few months later, Charlie got diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, and Luna showed bravery by not crying in front of her child. In truth, she worked harder than ever so that Charlie could continue getting therapy and whatever support she might need in the future.