If you are a parent, you have memories of your young child falling and getting a huge goose egg on their forehead. I imagine every parent has that story. Fell on the brick hearth, fell down the stairs, etc. To watch that bump turn into something bigger hurts and can be alarming.
Then, as the toddler gets older, they come to you with their boo-boo. Always funny how a band-aid makes even the tiniest spot all better. Those marketed toward kids are especially fun.
In the blog post One Tough Cookie: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2020/04/30/one-tough-cookie/, I told the story of getting him ready one morning many years ago to discover some awful scrapes on his arm. They were red and looked painful. I was totally puzzled over the how.
It was so bothersome that we installed a camera in his room. It was so long enough ago that it was a hassle to use and pull up images on our computer. Thankfully, technology has given us more efficient tools now.
A constant source of unease for me will be a bump or bruise that appears on sweet Jacob. I continue to watch for those and continue to rarely know the cause. I wish he could tell me what happened, how it hurt, then let me kiss it and make it better.
Nineteen years ago we sued the public school system where Jacob was enrolled. It all started when I was getting him ready for bed one November evening in 1999. There were horrible bruises and contusions on both arms from shoulder to elbows. Photos that are hard to look at so I’ll not share here.
Come to find out a special ed teacher’s aide, had dragged Jacob down the school hallway.
It was hard enough when he broke his collar bone at the same school with no witnesses but this, this was truly gut-wrenching.
Not wanting another family to face abuse at school, we filed a lawsuit. The amount was exorbitant. It was all about getting the attention of the school district. Hoping to pay the attorney, get the aide fired, and secure a monitoring system for parents to see their children in the school via home computers.
In the end, the lawsuit was dismissed. Sovereign immunity for the school system was their defense They argued the abuse was not intentional and never admitted guilt. Sadly, we weren’t the only family that had been hurt at the hands of this aide. And he remained at the school after the incident which was equally as disturbing. It felt like they turned their heads while protecting staff more than their most vulnerable students.
Bumps and bruises are part of life. Unfortunately, sometimes so are broken bones. Accidents happen every day. But when any or all of those come at the hands of a person paid to help and protect your non-verbal child, it is the worse kind of stab.
I hope no one reading this has had to realize their child has been abused. It was a nauseating nightmare. And there was absolutely no way I could kiss and make it better. It haunted me. I wondered if it haunted Jacob.
During the process, we had an amazing support group. Our families and our friends. Notes like these were what helped me ‘hold it together’ during the trial.
Why am I talking about such hard stuff? This past weekend I was chatting with a friend. Applauding her transparency in difficult circumstances they had been through with their child. In conversation, she said, “when you are going through hard times, it feels like you are alone. I share because it may help others who are facing something similar.”
Know that no matter how horrific your situation may be, there is probably someone going through something harder. And when you are on the other side of the pain, be the helping hand they need. Show kindness and grace. Do something to encourage and remind them that they are not alone.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.1 Peter 3:8