This afternoon I am angry, sad, and heartbroken on behalf of a little six year old boy who cannot advocate for himself. I sense that he believes there is no one, no adult out there big anough, mighty enough to save him. There are children around the world whose home lives are live petri dishes growing the disgusting human bacteria of painful and evil malice. What does one do when they believe the world has failed them? What does one little six year old boy do when he believes there is no help and he is too small to stand up to the evil darkness that paints the corners of his home – the one place he should have been able to be safe in? The place he should be able to count on for food, shelter, cleanliness, respect, love, dignity, a chance to grow and learn and thrive, and a place to feel safe and secure from the frightening things this world serves up daily. What sort of hope is there for growing up into a balanced, educated, prductive human being when the frightening things this world serves up daily is the main menu in your own home?
I began substitute teaching 2 1/2 years ago at this small town school. That was Chiefs’ first year also. We arrived together. I was fifty-eight, an age that many middle aged “movers and shakers” who run today’s modern society feel is beyond productivity and wisdom in this “superior” age of enlightenment. I walked through the doors healthy, happy and secure. Chief walked into the classroom with marks on his little body. Appropriate steps were taken. Human services was called. Marks and details were documented. An defensive tension entered that family setting because they now knew they were being observed. But over time things seemed to be getting better.
At Christmas the family was helped each year. Food, gifts, clothing were bestowed on them. No doubt the bestowers felt good about their holiday deed. Not a judgement – just a factual comment. In time, at least the visible abuse marks, were no longer seen on the little body. I never failed to smile and call out my “hello Chief” each and everytime I passed him in the hallways. Somedays he answered, somedays he didn’t. It didn’t matter to me.
Our second year there Chief began to talk some. He was very limited in who he talked to and what he chose to say. When I substituted in his class I looked for evvery opportunity to praise, talk to, encourage, love, and dignify him just as a little boy, a human being. I felt rewarded when I overheard teachers say Chief wouldn’t talk to them, because he talked to me, even though it was very limited. I felt there was the slightest connection between us, tentative, but a real connection. I saw him, I felt him, I acknowledged him simply as himself and where he was. And he needed a lot more than he was getting, a serious flaw in our educational system that law-makers are totally ignorant of. I say that with full confidence. If they weren’t ignorant, it would be reflected in the educational laws to improve the lives of children in our school systems, and nothing would persuade them to do otherwise.
This year our third year started and Chief is now repeating Kindergarten, essential to his welfare if he is to find his way through. And we come to today. I had substituted the previous three days and was not expecting to be called in this morning. The call came anyway and I hurried to get there. I was subbing in the class where there is some one-on-one attention for a short time for the children who need it most. Our time was coming, Chief, the last 30 minutes of the day was to be for you and me; a time when I could gift you with absolute full attention to you alone and your needs. Yes, I had already heard you had a rough morning. You made a bad choice on the playground and got into trouble. You ran away. It took two teachers to finally corral you and calm you down.
The afternoon found us on the playground, once again. I was with two other little gentlemen during our P.E. class who need special attention. Once again you made a wrong decision in your social actions with another student. You pinched her, and as all children will, she came and told the P.E. coach. You were sought, brought over and questioned. That’s when I saw the darkness descend over you like a demon whose arms eagerly waited to strangle your spirit and senses. When you were told you would have to stand against the wall in time-out you ran. For a child who experiences degradation and abuse when he makes a mistake it is hard to distinguish between good punishment and bad punishment – especially when you are only six and your life has been anything but normal. Sure, most kids understand. And that’s the problem. Adults assume certain level of abilities and aptitudes for all children lumped into an age category. But you are not of that category, are you Chief? Your “normal” has been an intolerable, twisted wreckage of abnormal, and the wisemen around you cannot see this startling truth. And sometimes to run is the only way to freedom and survival when you cannot hold your own survival in your hands.
The coach started following you and I jumped up to try to get to you first. The coach was calling for help. I was there. I caught you and you went down kicking, screaming and fists flying. I understand. Your little boy kicks did not hurt me and the only thing I wanted was to convince you that I cared. I told you that no matter how much grass you threw on me I would never be mad at you. The coach told me to get back (according to the “book”) so you wouldn’t hurt me. I knew in her eyes I was just an older woman and a substitute who couldn’t possibly have the heart wisdom to help this child now in a manic episode. I continued to talk to you and tell you that you were supposed to be with me this afternoon. You finally quit kicking and fist thrusting. I brushed the grass away from your face. You didn’t like it, but you let me. Unfortunately, I had to take my two little men back to their classrooms. By the time I got back outside you were gone, taken to the principal’s office.
As I approached the offices I heard the loud thumping against the outter wall. I knew it was you. When I glanced through the window in the door of the principal’s office I saw her standing near you with her paddle while your demons played out their misery. The vice-principal told me I could not help. I walked away. A few minutes later I returned and walked into the principal’s office. I told you this was supposed to be my time with you – just me and you alone and I asked if you wanted to come with me? You quitened down and shook your head yes. But then you and I were both devastated when the principal told us you had to “earn that right” to go with me to the classroom. The world slapped you in the face, let you down, and closed off the doors for you to find a quiet, safe place to regroup. With no other option I said hopefully next time it would work out. Once again, as the world failed you, you reacted in the one way you have repeatedly seen and been taught to react by those who have the strongest influence in your life. You lifted a tight fist with you middle finger extended and shouted, “Fuck you”. And then, you lifted both fists, tight with a frustration bordering on hatred for all you have had to suffer, both middle fingers high in the air and the primal screem, “Fuck you”. And I knew, and I understood. Where is the justice? Where is the advocate for sanity? Where is that single one, big enough and brave enough to push through the jungle of rotten souls in your life to save you?
It is not the fault of the principal. She is a good woman and was doing the job as it was taught to her. That is the accepted way in our world. We have our glorified institutions of higher learning; our “how to” text books full of egotistical theories, supposedly tried and true, not to be questioned. According to enlightened professors those words are factual statistics proven after following the lives of the status quo. And that, dear Chief, is where they always come out with barnyard excrement on the bottom of their shoes, because you are not of the status quo. They say, “There are protocols that must be followed.” I guess you and I would say, sometimes, protocols be damned. With every ounce of your little pathetic life you have demonstrated you are the exception that needs a stronger, safer,individualized measure of prevention. What all those intellectually sound individuals fail to realize is that each time you are abused, each time your father speaks the unspeakable to your no longer innocent ears, shoves you around and hurts you without leaving marks for the watchers to find, locks you into a solitary darkness of unlife, everytime your mother or other family members choose to be blind and deaf, your spirit, your soul, your very light is descrated and you are diminished further and further into an angry world that eventually will claim your soul and won’t let you return. All those books, all those glorious institutions, all those industrious leaders and teachers will never be there in your darkest night to rescue you, to hold you, to whisper words of hope and love, so what is their value to you? A good question I think because evil doesn’t subscribe to texts of higher learning, enlightened teaching, predictable thinking. There is no, “If this then this” or “for every action there is a reaction”. Resident evil plays by its’ own agenda and it is not normal, predictable, or easy to understand. And above all, it just doesn’t give a mighty damn what anyone else thinks. And that is your prison, the one no one really sees or wants to imagine.
“You have to earn the right” is chaffe in the winds of your fragile life. You who do not know love, have never experienced love or seen it demonstrated or taught before your eyes by those who have the most inflluence in the structure of your life and personality, are expected to live a life of love, understanding, and compassion for others. Love is essential, the beginning building block that everything else we learn and adapt to in this life depends on, and you do not possess it; not because you didn’t want to grab hold of its’ beauty but because it was curelly withheld from you and now you are paying a price far too high for anyone to have to pay. You are expected to magically respond to the teachers around you, to learn and to grow with a normal intelligence and personality – you who do not have the first basic DNA to begin – love, which begets trust, which begets safety, which begets hope and light, which begets learnng and a will to live and grow.
Because our world chooses to live in a true defecit, ignoring God’s grace and our ability to use that grace on behalf of others, we are unable to see the real you and put ourselves into your reality. So you are to blame because you just don’t get it. You don’t respond the way you “shoud be” responding, growing with the intelligence you “should be” obtaining. I am heartbroken there was no grace for you today. Why could there not be a moment of total forgiveness so you could escape the hell of your life and have a few quiet moments to calm down and rebuild yourself? You were ready to stop the madness but the protocols wouldn’t let you escape.
Now tonight, I fear for your life. What happened when “they” were called to pick you up early from school. They were inconvenienced for your misbehavior. Oh Chief, my heart breaks and my tears have fallen as I prayed for you tonight. I felt God’s tears in my heart as He has stood beside our hurt and pain. But He is there, beside us, waiting to do what He must do when the time is right according to Him. I asked myself if your life is better cut short and taken up into His glory or left for a lifetime of a hell on earth. I don’t have the answer and it is not required of me. But, old lady that I am, I know you are in there in that little six year old body. I hear you, Chief, with my “outdated” widsom and heart for God. And you heard me and believed in me for a brief second of hope when you shook your head yes and said you would go with me. We connected and could have gone into a time of rebuilding until it was taken from our reach this afternoon. I will keep reachiing out to you if God allows the opportunity to be mine.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If Chief should die before I wake, I pray his soul, dear God, to take. Amen.