Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dread...I Have No Idea

I recently began teaching reading to third, fourth, and fifth graders during our afterschool program in addition to my junior high reading class. Today my third graders encountered the word "dread," so after I defined it, I asked them to use it in a sentence.

One student, lets call her "Shanee," raised her hand eagerly. Of course, she hadn't thought of a sentence yet but eventually blurted one out, saying that she dreaded the next time her mom was going to beat her. Shanee then pointed out a large bruise on her arm and told us that the police had taken a photo of it.

As you can imagine, this wasn't what I expected Shanee to say, and given that we only had about another minute or two of class, I wasn't sure what to do with what she shared with her four classmates and me. So I asked them if they wanted to pray for Shanee and her mom. Two of them nodded in the affirmative and asked if we could hold hands around the table. One of the girls volunteered to pray, asking that Shanee's mom would stop beating her and that her dad would quit doing drugs (this girl is her cousin and obviously has some insight). Shanee interrupted the prayer to remind her cousin that it was her mom that did all of the drugs.

And so "dread" takes on new meaning for me. It's no longer how I feel about sitting in Atlanta traffic, getting a shot, confronting someone, returning to work after a holiday, etc.

It's how a precious nine year old girl--a child who is wonderfully affectionate, full of spirit, often moody, has incredible rhythm, and managed to put together the cutest cheer for me on "stewardship" for a devotional for her classmates a few weeks ago--feels about what her own mother is going to do to her. She's not wondering what gift she might receive for her birthday or where her family might eat out this weekend. She's dreading when she'll be beaten next.

Needless to say, I will report this, and it won't be the first time our program has had to do so. And while I feel great sadness by what Shanee is enduring, I have managed to find some comfort (and pray that Shanee has too). First, I am so grateful that Shanee shared her dread with us. Second, her classmates desire to pray for her and her cousin's love and concern is encouraging; I so want Shanee to know how loved and perfect she is. And lastly, Shanee's wonderful spirit despite her hardships and pain reminds me that good can prevail over evil and that God can redeem anything--even those things we dread most.

p.s. I am grateful for the amazing opportunity I have to learn from children whose lives look so very different from mine.

14 comments:

Ys said...

That's such a sad story. I'm glad you were able to deal with the situation so well.

icadle said...

Wow - thats a really powerful story. Thanks for sharing.

Punch-Drunk said...

Wow, I can't imagine having to deal with that - how sad - I will say a prayer for her myself. I rememeber going to school (ages ago)with other kids who had to grow up with that and it makes me thankful for growing up in a good Christian home. What a wonderful thing you are doing!

Clearlykels said...

Now, that is some perspective. She has my prayers as do you! That is something that is very difficult to deal with.

Boop said...

It is hard when a child let's you know that they are being abused isn't it? Really hard...and I totally understand the helpless feeling. I encountered it myself last year for similar reasons with one of my high schoolers. The Mom was reported, but nothing happened. And again this year it has occured with two of my students. As always, we must report it. Once such case DFACS was called, the police investigated and they determined there really was abuse, but then DFACS sent the girl home. Ummmm....faulty brain wiring? Maybe. Anyway...I do so hope that things turn out better for your little friend than they have for my students that have confided in me about abusive experiences.

Perhaps, the difference in the way that it's viewed is that my dear students are almost old enough to escape the situation...one more year for them and they'll be able to leave home without repercussions. That's the only logic I can come up with as to why so many teenagers that are abused don't end up getting the support and help they need even after it's reported.

Regardless, I will be praying for you and your friend. Hang in there.

Betty

ella said...

My jaw literally dropped when I read this post. It makes all my problems seem so trivial. I'm sorry for being such a whiny baby on IM today.

Keep us posted on what happens.

Ally said...

Ella: I will keep you posted; learned some details day that made the entire thing more disturbing. Although stories like Shanee's help keep our problems in perspective, it doesn't make our pain any less real. So no need to apologize!

Betty: Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts. I appreciate your prayers too. Sometimes I wonder what a parent has to do to have their child taken away....

Clearkels: Thank you.

Punch-drunk: Stories like this definitely make me appreciate what I didn't have to deal with as a child.

Ivy: Yep, and it's so much more powerful for me than the stories I heard growing up (living with a public school counselor and all)because I know Shanee.

Ys: Yep, so sad. It's definitely taking a lot to find hope in it.

The Dating Guru said...

Whoa. How horrible. Thank goodness you were there to deal with the situation so well.... :(

JK said...

I'm glad she had the trust and confidence in you to let that out...

brandy said...

Awww love. This is a heartbreaking post. I think that such honesty from kids is one of the most eye-opening parts of teaching. It's only later in life that people avoid topics, refuse to answer, ignore questions or conversations that might bring them shame or scare them. The little ones are so eager to share- thankfully this little girl shared with you. My fingers are crossed that her situation improves.

AaroN said...

Wow!

I can imagine how startled you were! How comforting it must be, though, to know she has friends that are willing to pray for her.

Thomas said...

I used to teach high school before I went to law school. My students really illuminated me about people from a different station in life from me.

allbilly said...

Abuse is a horrible thing. Especially with children who really have no avenue for escape and are generally surrounded by family members that would rather protect the abuser so the kid isn't "taken away" than do what is right.

The system tries, but unfortunately, it doesn't always work.

cdp said...

Wow.

That poor child. And poor you - I know this is not easy to deal with.

Will be praying for comfort for Shanee and guidance for you.