Who wants to know that monsters really exist? Not me.
I live in Happyland. I like living here. The world is not perfect, but neither are there real-life monsters.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine – an elementary school music teacher – asked me to help her out. One of her students, a little boy, was very disruptive, and she suspected ADHD or a sensory processing disorder or some such thing. Whatever was going on with him, she said, she needed some extra help and another point of view.
So, of course, I went.
I’m not new to classrooms. I’m not new to helping out with kids who are different or “disruptive” or autistic or below level or any of that.
But I am new to abused children.
This boy had scars running up and down one arm and leg. He was angry and fearful (naturally). He had a nasty fall at one point while running around the room, but did not cry or have any reaction to it (and it hurt! Bang, that poor head went right on a chair). When another boy accidentally ran into him, he curled up in fear. No pointing, no blaming, no outcry.
This was not all.
The poor child made many inappropriate anatomical comments. While he may have been at a curious stage, we all now suspect sexual abuse.
There are real monsters in the world.
As my friend told me, he’s not a “bad” kid. He’s smart and he’s curious, and he’s not acting out because he’s used to getting his way. He’s acting out because he’s traumatized. He’s not living the same life the other kids are. I suspect my friend is also right about sensory issues, but at this point that’s neither here nor there.
I’d like to end this happily. I’d like to say the parents reformed and the boy is now all grown up and doing well. I’d like to give it the typical Hollywood gloss.
But the truth is not that easy or tidy or cleansing.
The truth is that the school is looking into his situation. Which may take a while. They hope to have him in a special program by the end of the year – he requires a great deal of individual attention, not possible in a classroom of 20 kids or more – and we don’t know how that will go, or what will happen.
The truth is he has no idea that other people care about him and pray for him daily. He has no idea that there are good people out there who wish him well and are doing what they can (within the system) for him.
My friend points out that her prayers have been answered, up to this point. He’s alive, and the system is working its slow way toward doing what it can.
And yet, somehow, it just doesn’t feel like that’s enough.
Note: Hats off and much gratitude to those teachers out there who get this glimpse into the abyss on a regular basis. The personal toll must be tremendous, but you do much good in the world. Thank you.