“I think you’ve been playing your video games long enough.” Donna walked over to Evan’s TV and pressed the off button.
“Mom!” Evan raised his hands, keeping a tight clutch on the video game receiver. “I was on level eighteen! Now I need to start over.” Evan threw the receiver down and brought his knees up to his chest, hugging them tightly.
“Evan, enough is enough. You cannot watch video games in your room all day because you’re upset. It’s been two weeks since you and Lucy broke up, and this is all that you’ve done.” Donna gestured toward the TV.
Evan remained silent. His bottom lip exaggeratedly protruded with a frown. “Playing my game makes me happy.”
“It’s a beautiful day outside. Why don’t you go hang out in your treehouse and read or call Tim? Maybe he can come over for dinner.”
Evan shook his head. “I don’t want to. Can’t I just play my game until level nineteen? Please!?”
Donna took a deep breath, unable to find the urge to fight him on the topic. “Fine. Level nineteen. That’s it. Got it?”
Evan quickly stood to embrace his mom tightly. “Thanks, mom.”
“I think we have a problem. Maybe I need to call someone that Evan can speak to.” Donna said as she walked out to the back porch, taking a seat beside Dennis.
“Like a therapist?” Dennis asked, seemingly in disbelief.
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Donna took in the smell of Fall as she looked out upon the rolling hills in their backyard. Michigan was beautiful this time of year.
Crisp, cold leaves scattered about next to their backyard firepit, still simmering from the night before. Evan had refused to come outside and appreciate his father’s efforts to start the fire, which was unlike him.
“He’s a kid, Donna. Kids like video games. It’s just a phase. He’ll grow out of it.”
Donna bit her lip while slouching in her seat. “This feels different. It reminds me of the time he got his first F on a test. We couldn’t get him out of his room for a week. All he wanted to do was play his video games then too. Do you remember that?”
Dennis shook his head. “If it makes you feel better, call somebody. It can’t hurt, I guess. But I think you’re going to find out that he’s just like a typical kid.”
“I hope you’re right,” she said, believing her gut instinct instead, which was usually accurate.
“I believe Evan has an addictive personality disorder.”
Donna and Dennis looked at each other skeptically before turning back to Dr. Nelson, Evan’s new therapist.
“What exactly does that mean?” Donna responded impatiently.
“It simply means that Evan is using negative coping mechanisms, in this case, video games, in response to the distress of his breakup. He’s seeking a positive sensation to replace the negative.”
“Well, how did he get it? Did we do something that could have caused this?” Donna alarmingly grabbed Dennis’ hand and squeezed hard.
The attractive woman sitting across from them smiled gently. Her long, cascading brown waves hung loosely over her shoulders as she crossed one leg over the other.
Her good looks screamed supermodel, rather than a therapist, Donna thought.
“This doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong as parents. In some cases, an addictive personality disorder can be hereditary, but I don’t think that’s the case with Evan. I feel like when Evan received a failing grade or had his heartbroken, it caused low self-esteem, which was the trigger to his addiction.”
“How can we help him?” Dennis chimed in, softly rubbing Donna’s hand with his as she loosened her grip.
“You’ve already started helping him by bringing him here today. Beyond this, you can get him involved in an after school activity. He was telling me that he likes to run. Sign him up for something like track, which would be very effective in keeping him busy. I want to keep seeing him weekly for the next month or so. If you’re open to that, you can schedule the next few weeks on your way out.”
Both Dennis and Donna nodded in agreement.
“We’d like for him to come back to see you. Thank you so much for your time today.” Donna sighed deeply.
“Of course.” Dr. Nelson responded to Donna and stood.
Dennis and Donna took her lead, stood, and followed her out to the lobby.
Evan looked up from his book as they made their way to the front desk to schedule his next appointment.
Dr. Nelson turned to Evan. “It was nice meeting you today, Evan. I look forward to our next visit.”
Evan blushed with a nod. “Same here,” he quietly responded with a breaking voice.
Evan was excited. His next appointment couldn’t come fast enough, quite frankly. Meeting Dr. Nelson was just what he needed to mend his fourteen-year-old broken heart.
Falling in love with your therapist will do that to you.