Can't help wondering...what you're wondering about?
I'm wondering about abused and neglected children I've known. How are they? Did they make it to a safe place in life? What has become of them? About some, I know. About others I will probably never know. This much I know...sometimes I was there, like a shadow, protecting them for a little while in their journey.
And they still come like never ending streams flowing to the sea…and remind me of the pictures of the baby turtles fighting their way to the sea against all odds…no help…just each one for him or her self...alone among the masses. Most will not make it. Nature doesn’t seem to care. If enough are born, then enough will survive and carry on. Nature, it seems, asks no more.
This morning one comes through the cold rain, not yet awake, shivering, dressed inappropriately no doubt in clothes she slept in. The calendar says summer and so Sissy (9 going on 3) has dressed her self in summer clothes. She’s carrying a chicken patty that she eats like a starving person. I caution her to slow down so she doesn’t choke. Among other things she struggles with seizures. Soon her younger sister appears. Also cold, and she, too, is hungry. Since 11 of her abscessed teeth were recently surgically removed Boots (age 8) can’t eat much...certainly not frozen chicken patties. I cook her favorite…scrambled eggs…and give them both 100% juice.
They chatter about how cute the new baby down the block is. I met her several days ago…mottled with cold. She’s the first of this never-to-be wedded teen mother. Her neighbor, not yet 21 has 4 now. Thank you God! I thought when I learn she had her tubes tied with the latest one.
A young friend spent some time with me yesterday. Now nearly grown…at an age when I dread hearing from her, the words “I have something to tell you,” but not yet old enough to know the consequences of her choices says, “Guess what? My Mom wants to have another baby.”
I cringe and swallow. “OMG” I say…then ask “Why, Kats? Since she doesn’t take care of the rest of you?”
“Oh, she says she just loves babies soooooooo much…and can’t stand thinking about not having one around.” The youngest comes to mind…nearly 4, about to start Head Start, still nursing… few words to speak, but dark haunted eyes tell it all. Kats seems almost used to the nightly violence in their home, the visits by the police. Still, she tells me how she cries…not for herself, she reminds me, but for the little ones who can’t stop crying in their fear.
After school intervened over concerns about the possibility of suicide, Kats (14, abused, neglected and victim of sexual molestation by family members) received some therapy, but she no longer goes. ”Because,” she tells me, “Dad complained about the cost of gas, and Mom said it’s too much trouble to take me since she has to drag the ‘baby’ along.” “And you Kats,” I ask? “How are you doing, babe?”
“I’m fine,” Kats says, “You know I’m always fine.”
Now, with so little left to give, I give them all I can, these precious children that seek out those of us who do what we can, like the tiny abandoned turtles seek the sea. We, who can, offer some little bit of sanctuary from the violence, the weather, the fear that is their constant companion. We, who can, provide food from our own food-pantry-stocked pantries against the rules that say we cannot share. We scrounge clothes from free clothing pantries for who can afford thrift stores anymore now that those who had enough no longer do so and shop there? With increased business the prices have been raised beyond what we can pay. We give the children encouragement that sometimes seems like hollow lies even as we offer it. “Hang on babe-things will get better.” Really? Well, they need hope at least, don’t they?
Oh… and did I mention Love? We give them love along with everything else, and when there is nothing else? We give them Love.
Not much else we can do really when their needs are so great, but we help as we can. It isn’t the “Help” that comes from broken systems with assorted initials…CPS, DYS, DYFS, et al. It doesn’t matter what they are called from place to place around the world, they are underfunded, understaffed, swamped by paperwork, and, sadly, more and more moneys meant for the children are ripped off the top by privatization that takes much for the pockets of investors and gives little to those for whom it is intended... if it ever really is.
The children struggling to survive and grow are luckier than the baby turtles struggling to reach the sea, I suppose. Although even many of those defenseless young manage to reach the sea burdened by physical deformities and go on living with who knows what perspective on life? Who knows what becomes of them once out of sight? Who knows what becomes of these little children so out of sight?
And the ones who survive? In the US every day four or five or uncounted more abused and neglected children don’t survive. Of the millions abused each year, the ones who survive bring record crime, fill the profit-making prisons, and cost billions in direct and indirect costs.
Oh…and like the lost little turtles, they, too, the lost little children eventually go on to reproduce as Nature intends.
When Sissy and Boots leave I spend the rest of my time on the computer trying to wake up the people who do not see the way so many children live in this country where so many have so much more than anyone needs, but block every attempt to do more for these children who need so much just to survive lives that most cannot… or will not… even imagine.
Too much of the time lately, I wonder, why bother? There are so many and so little of me. What can one person do? But then they come through cold rains in summer, through icy winds in winter… and I remember.
So as I am writing, Sissy and Boots return to share with me some things given to them by the system yesterday at a Children’s Fair… colorful brochures about children’s health and safety… and such…given to the parents who can’t read, cheap lead laced trinkets given without regard to the health of the little children receiving them who will most certainly have them in their mouths, chewing and eating bits and pieces.
One slick and colorful brochure is about internet safety. I think about Pacer when she was 9, telling me how horrified she was to go on her Dad’s computer, typing in her sister’s name and seeing a “movie of lots of naked men doing nasty things to one girl.” These children live the stuff others write about.
A friend says… of don’t be so hard…they mean well…everyone is doing the best they know how. And I agree- most of them are, do care, do make as much difference as they can in whatever way they are able. I’ve known the teachers with food hidden in the bottom drawer, buying school supplies out of there salaries. I’ve known the social workers who cry for the children they see the system return to parents who may make the headlines in another week. I’ve seen the pain in the eyes of the police officers who have to walk away because he says, she says and if the children say anything, it’s a lie told in fear or to protect the only family they have.
So am I too hard to hope for more? Or maybe just too tired not to? Like the little turtle who struggles on, I cannot give up as long as the children don’t.
“Will we go for a walk today,” the children want to know. “Of course,” I say. What else can I do?
And they came again. I see that Sissy has been crying hard. I ask. Daddy punched me in the stomach. Boots gives her the look...the one that says "SH... don't tell!" I check her stomach...no sign of injury. Hopefully, there is none unseen. Why not call the police? They may or may not bother to come to their house...too many times already. And CPS? Opens and closes files on them like a revolving door. Not nearly enough funding to cover the need. These children are on their own.
A Child is Waiting,
Take care...be aware,