As a Special Education Teacher I worked with children who had emotional disturbances. Some children cried, some shut down and other were just plain enraged. It hurt me to see children so young carry heavy emotions. I thought to myself, their lives didn’t even begin yet and already they are drained of joy, energy and hope. James was a fourth grader who trusted me and connected with me enough to be vulnerable. We were reviewing math together when he just froze and stooped in a dazed phase. I watched him for a few seconds wondering what he was in deep thought about. The look on his face was intense and his emotion seemed raw.
He quickly regained his focus and said, “Mrs. B?”
“Yes,” I replied eager to hear what he wanted to say.
“They hurt me. My father and his wife put my feet in scalding water when I was three. I didn’t do anything.” I swallowed hard trying to fight back the tears that were ready to stream down my face as I watched his tears stream down his sweet face. Say something fast Dana, I thought to myself.
“I’m so sorry James I said softly. You never deserved that. You’re a special sweet boy who deserves to be treated well all the time. Look at me James,” I said holding his hand. He looked at me and I said, “Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m sorry they hurt you.” Without consent, my independent thinking tears gushed down my face. Damn it Dana, I told you not to cry I demanded. James didn’t seem to mind my tears. He knew I cared.
- But, not all children were like James. One child would not listen to me. She was mad and she did not trust kindness. Her wall was super high. I continued to reassure her, coax her and wait for her to listen and trust me, but , she wouldn’t. Mental and emotional abuse is crippling and suffocates child development. I will continue to try with her, until little me listens. My inner child is damaged. She is frozen in the pain and fear of the abuse. Everyone tells me to keep talking to her and that in time, she may listen.