Just A Normal Boy

Doctor Henson opened the door wide and smiled.

“Timothy? Won’t you come in? It’s okay, your parents will be just here till you come out.”

The small boy dropped off the adult-sized chair, looked to his mother for confirmation, then walked into the office. Dr Henson nodded to the anxious pair who remained, sitting hand in hand on the chairs.

“Don’t worry. We’re just going to have a little chat. It just helps for us to have some time together. Children often feel inhibited with their parents present. We won’t be long.”

He turned and closed the door on their fears. Timothy stood in the middle of the office, awaiting the doctor.

“Please, please, take a seat,” said the doctor, indicating a chair. He turned his own from the desk to face the boy. Desks were too much of a barrier.

“Which do you prefer, Timothy or Tim?” he said.

The boy shrugged. “I don’t mind. Tim is fine. What do you prefer to be called?”

“Ha! Do you know, I don’t think anybody’s asked that before. Jeremy will be fine.”

Tim leant forward in his chair and held out his hand.

“How do you do, Jeremy.”

Dr Henson took it out of reflex.

“How do you do, Tim. Do you know why you’re here?”

“Yes.”

“And why’s that?”

“Mum and Dad want you to tell them I’m not crazy.”

Dr Henson laughed and slapped his leg.

“Good answer. And are you? Crazy, I mean.”

Tim shrugged. “You’re the doctor,” he said. “But I don’t think so.”

“Good, good. That’ll be a relief to them, I’m sure.”

Tim nodded solemnly.

“So tell me, Tim, why do you think your parents feel like that, do you suppose?”

“They don’t really think I’m crazy, not really. They just think I’m different. Maybe they think I’ll turn crazy.”

“Why would they think that?”

“You’re the doctor. Maybe they think everyone different will go crazy.”

“And you? Do you think you’re different?”

Tim nodded.

“How are you different, Tim?”

Tim sighed. “I don’t know. Lots of ways. Other kids, they’re just boring, you know? They watch stupid shows and play baby games. I mean, some of them are okay, but not all the time. They don’t understand, Mum and Dad, I mean. I like reading. I mean, really like it, you know? But they just want me to play football or something.” He looked around the office. “You’ve got a lot of books. Have you read them all?”

Doctor Henson looked round at his bookcases.

“Yes. Well most of them, but not maybe all the way through. What sort of books do you like?”

Tim shrugged again. “I don’t know. Everything, pretty much. Not kids books so much, but anything. Mum has a load of books, but they’re just about falling in love and stuff. I read Dad’s paper when he’s not around. Can I take a look?”

Without waiting for a reply, Tim stood up and walked towards the bookcase.

“Why do you wait till he’s not around?”

“Who, Dad?” said Tim, holding his hands behind his back and peering at the spines of the books. “Because he gets a bit worried. You know, afraid I’ll read about something I shouldn’t, or I’ll ask him something about a story he doesn’t know the answer to. He doesn’t think it’s normal for an eight-year-old kid to read the newspaper. Not read it and ask questions, anyway.”

“Do you think it’s normal?”

“It’s normal for me. What does ‘dysfunction’ mean?”

“It means not working properly. In psychiatry it means not behaving properly. Why?”

“Childhood influences in sexual dysfunction,” Tim read. “J. Henson. Is that you? Are you famous?”

Dr Henson coughed. “Well, not rock star famous, but some other doctors have read my books.”

“That is so cool. I mean, I love reading, but to write a book, that is just so cool.”

Dr Henson felt himself blush, and was all the more embarrassed for blushing at the flattery of an eight-year-old.

“Well, maybe you’ll write a book sometime, when you’re older.”

“Yeah, right. What am I going to write a book about?”

“You’re eight, Tim. It’s okay not to know what you’re going to do later. I certainly didn’t know at your age. But you’re bright, very bright indeed. Who knows what you might do? What would you like to do?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. Everything, really. I want to do everything.”

Dr Henson chuckled. “Well, you’re not unusual in that. Lots of young men feel that way.”

“What did you want to do?” said Tim.

“I don’t remember. Be an astronaut, maybe.”

“Can I read this?”

“Not that one. It’s a bit dry for an eight-year-old I think.”

“You mean, it’s got sex in.”

“That too. Tell me, Tim, you say your dad doesn’t like you reading the paper. How do you feel about that?”

“He doesn’t not like it, exactly, but he gets worried, you know?”

“How do you feel when he gets worried?”

Tim frowned and looked at the carpet.

“I don’t know. Not nice, I guess. I mean, I can’t help the way I am, right? And it’s not that I’m naughty or anything. It’s just, Mum and Dad, they think it’s their fault, like they did something wrong. That’s why they brought me here.”

“To see if you’re crazy?” asked Doctor Henson, smiling.

“No, for you to tell them they didn’t do anything wrong. You will tell them that, won’t you? That’s all they need to hear. That they’re good parents, that I’m not crazy, and that maybe I’ll grow out of this. That’s what you have to tell them, okay?”

“Do you think you’ll grow out of this?”

Tim shook his head.

“Do you want to?”

Tim shrugged.

“I don’t know. Ask me when I’m grown up. Just tell them they’re doing okay, and to stop worrying.”

Tim walked back from the bookshelves and stared into Doctor Henson’s eyes.

“That’s what you have to tell them, understand? Tell them they’re good parents.”
,
“Tim, I’m sure they know already.”

“No, you must tell them.” Tim moved closer, his face filling Dr Henson’s field of vision. “Tell them they’re good parents. Tell them I’m normal.”

“Tell them – ” Dr Henson couldn’t take his eyes away from the serious-looking boy.

Tim’s parents jumped as the office door opened and Dr Henson ushered Timothy from his consulting room. The doctor smiled at them.

“Mr and Mrs White, you have a bright boy here. Remarkable, in fact, but very well adjusted. You’ve done a wonderful job in raising him.”

“But, you know, his reading and things,” said Mr White.

“Oh, that’s just a phase, I’m sure he’ll grow out of it. I expect some time soon you’ll be just as worried about girlfriends. Seriously, he’s fine. You’re good parents.”

After they left he returned to his office and looked down at his notebook. Strange. Where were his notes? Had he made any? Oh well, nothing lost. Tom, Tony, whatever his name was, he wasn’t dysfunctional in any way, so what did it matter?

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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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