The Hazards of Counseling Picture Books

(Ideally to be narrated by Morgan Freeman)

Debbi Bradford was a dear sweet little girl who never got into trouble. Her pair of curly brown plaits were always as neat and her school jumpers were unstained. Debbi was quiet and most children did not bother her, very much. They were just so terribly immature in comparison. Down the street from little Debbi, there lived a little boy, Jean Drake. Jean did not know Debbi very well but their parents often took them to the community playground at the same time.

One day, Debbi appeared at the monkey bars in a sequined white leotard and a frilly rose tutu. She had pleaded with her mother to let her change after ballet class, fearing her the jeering of her peers. Her mother would hear none of it and left Debbi to join her friends just outside the playground. The other children sniggered behind their hands but only Jean was bold enough to point a chubby finger and laugh. Debbi wrinkled her forehead and stomped over to the parent's pavilion. Jean was on her heels begging her with watery hazel eyes not to tell his mother.

For all Jean's sobbing, Debbi would not be swayed. She made a beeline for Mrs. Drake's bench and tugged urgently on the woman's sleeve. Mrs. Drake turned to the little girl with an impatient sigh and widened her eyes when Debbi, who pointed at Jean, spoke firmly, "Your little boy is laughing at me. Make him stop!"

Mrs. Bradford came over and took Debbi to a different area of the playground. There she sat alone in the sandbox where her dainty ballet slippers quickly filled with grains. Her lack of companionship untroubling to her, she set about building a castle of sand complete with a stable of dance studio. Little Debbi did not see Jean again.

It was the next weekend, on a Sunday, that it was told that Jean Drake had passed away three days after delivering his insult. He was riding his tricycle in the street when an runaway eighteen wheel accidentally ran over him. Jean had died in the ambulance. When Mrs. Drake made an appearance at the playground, she was red and pinched with distress.

The news put the five year olds of Mai Dolley Park in a state of wild mourning. All the children were wailing and screeching for the loss of their comrade. All the children but little Debbi, that is. Upon noticing this, Mrs. Bradford took her daughter home, tucked her in for a nap and scoured the yellow pages for counselors that specialized in children. It took all of naptime for Mrs. Bradford to find the right one.

Dr. Zdneck was an accredited doctor who held group meeting and private sessions with children who had experienced a loss. His office was closed on Sunday but the next morning he returned Mrs. Bradford's frantic call for help. The appointment to assess the sort of help Debbi needed was set for the next week on Thursday. He was going to visit Debbi to get an idea of what she needed. In the mean time, the unemotional girl was showered with grief counseling picture books. Debbi would glance and the cover and go back to her coloring velvets and singing the ABCs. Needless to say, the next week couldn't come quickly enough for Debbi's mother.

The good doctor Zdneck came that Thursday in a camel suit and a yellow and pink polka dotted bow tie. He found Debbi in the den with her dolls and sat beside her.

"Well, Miss Debbi, how are you today?" the man asked his most syrupy sweet voice he reserved for difficult children.

Debbi ran a brush through her blond doll's tresses, "I am fine, thank you, sir."

"Really?" Dr. Zdneck replied with surprise, "Your mommy told me that your neighbor died, aren't you sad?"

"No Jean was a mean little brat who made fun of me. If anything I am glad."

"But is it good to be happy about someone's death, Miss Debbi?"

Debbi scrunched up her face and started bawling, "No, I am a mean little brat too, aren't I?"

Dr. Zdneck patted the child on the head as she flailed about. He smiled at her mother, "She'll be just fine ma'am."