Fading Away

I can never unsee
The look
In your eyes
Or the bruises
On your legs
I can never unhear
Your response
When I asked,
What happened?
Little hand in a fist
Tearful words…
Me mommy
How was that possible?
I did not understand
But never doubted
Your brave declaration
Forever seared
In my memory
Words to be
Recalled years later
During the trial
I will never forget
But knowing you
Are happy now
Seeing you smiling
Your bright smile
Helps bad memories
Begin to fade
I hope they are
Fading for you

I have not written about our friend, Marie, in a long time. Face to Face with Child Abuse: Personal Reflections of a Teacher But she is coming to visit this weekend! I am both nervous and excited. Recent pictures show how much she has grown and changed. And her smile-bigger than ever! Hoping to add to her list of happy memories. ❤

Gone Fishing

I have not thought about going fishing in a long time. As a child, I used to go all the time with my Dad. He still calls me his fishing buddy.

Today, all I could think about is the chance to go fishing again with my Dad.

He is currently in the hospital. A test this morning revealed an artery blockage and heart valve problem. So, he will be having open-heart surgery on Friday morning.

I am thankful for a job where I was able to just pick up and go. I needed to be with my parents. And when I called to tell Mom we were on our way, what do you think my Dad mentioned? Oh, yes-his fishing buddy.

I saw him this afternoon. He looks good. We talked about what was happening and how much better he will feel after recovery. And I told him, maybe this summer we would have to go fishing.

The Right Question

A recent story on the local morning news involved someone being shot at an apartment complex. There were not many details. One adult shot another adult. While listening to the report I kept thinking, “I wonder if there were any children present?”

Had I heard the same story any morning previous, my reaction might have been different. That is what happens when we view our surroundings through a different lens. Gain a new perspective.

Why did this story have this effect on me on this particular day? Because the day before I attended a professional development workshop for educators entitled “The Trauma-Informed Classroom.” Dr. Barbara Sorrels, author of the book “Reaching and Teaching Children Exposed to Trauma,” was our presenter.

One of the most powerful moments of the day was listening to an actual 911 recording. The voice we heard was a six-year-old little girl named Lisa. Lisa was witnessing a violent attack on her mom and siblings by her stepfather. And it was not the first.

It is difficult for me to imagine the awful things this little girl witnessed. The fear in her voice was almost palpable. Her cries for help were interchanged with moments of extreme clarity. She provided crucial information and displayed incredible bravery.

The screams of this little girl caused a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Once the recording ended, the room remained silent. Dr. Sorrels then asked us to discuss how memories from this event might affect Lisa in the future. What images, smells, sounds, etc. might trigger negative responses from her?

All I could think was, “How can a child be expected to function at school after such a traumatic event?”

The workshop continued with stories of other trauma children, their caregivers, and teachers. We also explored ways to help promote healing.

By the end of the day, I felt emotionally and intellectually overwhelmed. How could I use this information to positively influence my classroom? How could it help me better connect with my students?

Dr. Sorrels encouraged us to start with one objective, helping one child at a time. And then another idea and another child, and so on. I reviewed my notes, and one thing stood out-a comparison of two questions. The questions represent two ways I might respond to a child’s behavior.

What is wrong with you?

What happened to you?

These questions have definitely been asked inside my teacher brain. And more often than not, I asked the first question. I should be asking the second.

So where do I begin?

  • Be mindful that a frustrating “behavior” might actually be a reaction to trauma.
  • Realize my perspective in approaching a child has the power to foster healing.
  • Be willing to ask the right question.