5.4.09

Deep Down Trauma Hounds

This weekend was insanity served under the guise of new hope for a child who desperately wanted it. Without getting into details, to say I'm upset is an understatement.

I can take nonsense and make due with it. I'm an adult. I can cope. Children are a totally different thing. I did my best. I talked. I asked questions. I answered questions asked of me. In the end, I couldn't make what happened right or even make sense.

Those who I've told know what I'm talking about. Those who don't will have long stopped reading. The bottom line is, I can't stand to see my little girl hurt, and she's gone through a lot these past few months and has taken it like a trooper. This was too much. This got under my skin in a way few things have. I don't like what happened, but I understand. I understand that adults make decisions good and bad and often act without thinking all the way through. That's all well and great when nobody else is in the crossfire. It starts to become morally reprehensible when others are involved for no reason other than the fact that they are there.

My anger may or may not fade in time. I don't have to live with decisions made, but I had to explain to my little girl why things were the way they were. She's almost five, but the words she tossed my way were more mature than I get from a lot of adults. She is wise beyond her years, and normally I'd think that's a good thing, but with the insight she has ... well, these decisions didn't fly for her, either.

People say kids get over things. They do. I don't think people should be so cavalier about that, though, because while they do get over things, they also remember. "Things" form the basis for the rest of their lives. "Things" usually don't destroy, but they mold. If you don't think your decisions affect them, think about all the crap you remember from your parents and how it shaped your life, relationships and decisions you've made.

I've often said that parents are the worst thing to happen to children. They hurt them the most. No kid asks to be born, and then you have these people put in charge of taking care of them and making them responsible adults. The problem is that most parents aren't responsible adults. They are mixed up, often hopeless creatures just trying to get through life without causing anymore pain and destruction. I'm the same way. I'm not a saint, and nor would I say I am. I think I'm an adequate father at best, and wish I were better. This weekend showed me just how powerless I can be.

People wonder why I'm always so angry, so bitter, so cynical. It's because I open my eyes and pay attention. I don't sugarcoat my feelings, and I don't pretend things don't exist. I see as much of the truth as possible, even when it isn't pleasant. This weekend ranked right up there in unpleasantness. I contained myself. I maintained ... until later, when I broke down on the phone and felt all of an inch tall because the emotions flooded in.

... The victim had broken ribs, a broken back, a missing fingernail and toenail. The killing blow, as it were, was blunt force trauma to the head so severe that the autopsy revealed the victim's tooth in his stomach. The victim was 17 months old. His killers? His mom's boyfriend and a guy who lived with them. Mom did nothing to stop it. In the grand scheme of things, that child is much better off. The woman who brought him into the world did nothing to stop what was happening. She picked a boyfriend who was psychotic for whatever reason. The woman who was supposed to protect her son did everything to ensure his death. And that kid is still better off. What kind of life would he have had? And if he survived to the point where he ran away, what sort of life would he lead? What kind of decisions would he make? Who would he hurt?

Parents do bad things to their children. Some are physical. Some are mental. Some are planned. Most aren't. They make decisions often without thinking. They act human when they need to be superhuman. It's the whole reason young people shouldn't have kids. They don't know how to handle being young let alone handle a young one.

We always warn kids to be aware of strangers. It's a good warning to give. But we also have to look out for them when it comes to their parents. As parents, and some of you reading this are, we have to ask: How will my actions affect my child? Now there are some things you can't help. You have to take a new job. You have to spend a birthday in the hospital. You can't buy that special toy. But for the decisions where you have a choice, you need to think. You need to work them out before they affect anyone else.

I don't want to air my laundry in public, and that's kind of what I did here, but writing is therapeutic for me. It helps me sort out things. I wouldn't have even had to do this if I didn't spend time yesterday trying to explain to a four-year-old why her world went from candy to crap all in a few hours. I had no good explanation, either. I watch my words because I don't want to paint anyone in a bad light unless absolutely necessary, and my girl is way too young to understand all the nuances even if she is perceptive as all hell. It was torture, and it came after a week of her saying she wished a certain something could happen ... and then it did .. and then it was yanked away.

I believe that in time, in the teen years, my daughter will finally understand what has gone on around her. I fear she will experience her first taste of parental hate at this point. Serious hate. Not the hate that comes when you make a kid take a bath. No, the kind of hate that comes when a kid realizes his or her parents are flawed creatures that had no business bringing a kid into the world. I hope I'm wrong because as a teen you still don't have all the capacities to understand those decisions, but you're closer (and it doesn't matter how damn perceptive you are again).

If you're reading this in the future, girl, I'm sorry. I tried my best to explain in a way you would understand. You handled it well. You did. I wasn't happy with what went down, but I wasn't surprised. I know it came as a shock to you, going from Cloud 9 to Hell in such a short period of time. Maybe it will have no affect on your life years down the road. Maybe you won't even remember. I hope that's the case. But I try my best to not take those kind of chances. And I know the other party involved tries to, too. But sometimes we fail. I apologize, and I know the other party does, too. I hope that, years from now, that's enough. I hope you don't even remember what I'm talking about. Your face said otherwise at the time, though, and your later questions and conversations told me even more.

You are a wise child who is smarter than she should be at this age. It's up to both parents to remember that. I am sorry. I really am.

3 comments:

Laurel said...

"Those who I've told know what I'm talking about. Those who don't will have long stopped reading." Then ther's the rest of us.

-Doug Brunell "America's Favorite Son" said...

I think that's more like, "Then there's you." I'm surprised anyone read that.

Laurel said...

"Then there's you" is going to echo in my head. It has a certain ring to it.

I read it all.