Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Taming My Inner Grizzly Bear

This past weekend was exhausting! It was filled with things I was unprepared to hear and have no idea how to handle. I feel caught between the conflicting emotions of wanting to run far far away saying it's not my problem to deal with and that of a raging momma bear intent on killing the one who hurt her babies.

I suspect the three kids who spend a lot of time here are being abused at their mom's house. It's been a niggling thought for quite awhile as there would an unexplainable bruise or a comment that was so far off as to make the hair stand up on the back of my neck. But the things that they said and did this past weekend have tipped the scale to where I am nearly certain they are being hurt.

The littlest one, age 6, is normally very boisterous and chatty. This time he was sullen, fascinated with death and had a total potty mouth. It was freakishly morbid to hear such a young child say "I want to die" and "I wish I was dead" and "things would just be better if I was dead" over and over again. I haven't heard it before, but their dad tells me this isn't the first time there's been talk about wanting to die. And the cussing wasn't the normal "hell" or "damn" that would give a little one such a rush... it was much worse.

At one point I asked "Where'd ya learn to swear like that?" The answer was "My mom." The next older sibling chimed in then saying that she doesn't mean to swear but that's how she was raised and sometimes she just gets so mad that she can't help but swear. Later this one told me that the "bi word" meant a female dog. We stopped then and talked about how it was also used to disrespect a woman and that it was a very naughty and hurtful thing to say. And while it wasn't said outright, I was definitely left with the impression that the kids get called this (among other equally awful things)... and not infrequently. There was some talk of the consequences of the kids swearing at mom's house that ended with "beat the holy crap out of him and throw him in the corner."

The next day they were going to watch a movie with me but the little one wanted to play with my new Wii instead and had the worst meltdown I think I have ever seen when I said no. It was so far out of proportion to the situation and more intense that any previous tantrum that I've witnessed that I was flabbergasted. There was no appeasing, no distracting - it just got worse and worse and worse. The oldest child, 12, started threatening a spanking and asked me for a wooden spoon to do it. I said no, that noone was going to get hit and especially not with a wooden spoon. And then it escalated even farther with this child dragging the littler one upstairs and the little one screaming and grasping for the stair railing in fear of getting beat. I called their dad to come get them because I was afraid someone was going to really get hurt at this point.

That left just me and the middle child to watch the movie. Before it started, I learned that spankings with a wooden spoon are commonplace. Sometimes they are hit so hard the spoon breaks. I know they have had bruises in this approximate shape and size before...

There's more. A lot more. But I'm going to get upset again if I continue.

And the thing is I don't have any rights in this situation. The kids have a happy little family life all planned out for us, and I know in their minds they have bedrooms all picked out in my house, but their dad and I have no such agreement. I'm not their parent, I'm not even their prospective parent. I can't document anything that happened with dates, times, pictures. Nobody is going to listen to what I say. So, basically, I am powerless to effect any change whatsoever and it just makes me sick.

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