Through the Eyes of a Child
(first appeared in the Downeast Coastal Press on Oct. 17, 1989)
- This child is inside of me, part of me. This child demands to be heard by me, the adult, and by other adults who also have a child within themselves. This child cries out, not only for itself, but for all children. This child cries out for children who still ride bikes and use swingsets and slides, and still look at the world with wonder and magic in their eyes. This child also cries out for the internalized child within all adults. The child within, is that part of ourselves, which we were taught to deny. It is the spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, feeling, and magical part of ourselves, which seems to have no place of it’s own in the world; no place that is safe, except to remain in hiding, deep inside of us, never acknowledged, always abandoned. With the voice of this child, I will try to describe an experience that I had, here in my own town, as seen through the eyes of a “child”.
- I felt a deep sadness, almost as if it were permeating the air around me, and decided to take a walk with my youngest son. At the edge of our property, I spotted a few young children fishing with makeshift poles. Two sisters shared a pole. These two children, (ten years old, and six years old), had just been separated from their mother. Their mother had just been returned to the hospital for the “nth” time, suffering from an acute emotional distress.
- How can the world be a safe enough place for these two little ones to allow their True Selves to develop and mature? How can they avoid becoming the roles that they have to play, in order to survive in this world? I watched as the ten year old helped her little sister brush off and straighten her dress, and lead her off, hand on shoulder. They returned to a home where no one waited, as their dad was off, attending to the necessary and painful duties of the present crisis. I said a silent prayer for the ten year old surrogate mother, and her six year old surrogate daughter, lost in the confusion of a home without Mommy. Both were playing their roles. To anyone on the outside, all was well.
- A few minutes passed, and a young boy rode up on his bike. He said hello to my son, and then to myself. He got off his bike, and stared out over the river. Then he turned to me, and told me that his Mom had dropped him off at a neighbor’s. He told me, also, that the neighbor had gone and left him on his own. He was about seven years old. His voice wavered, and his forehead creased with concern, as he told me. Then, as if noticing the other children for the first time, he proceeded to tell me in a haughty voice-“It’s no big deal, I just found somebody who was home, just like before.”! I knew this wasn’t the first time he had been left alone, and probably wouldn’t be his last. His role was becoming solidified. Soon, to anyone on the outside, all would appear well. He would become the role he has to play in order to survive!
- All three of these children have been abandoned. The chances are very high that they will suffer as adults, in some way, because of abandonment trauma.
- Abandonment, (either physical, or emotional), is usually present in most dysfunctional homes. In a dysfunctional home, most family members end up playing a “role” and continue to play that role unconsciously as adults. Children can be, and are, extraordinarily creative in their coping mechanisms. Even at seven or eight, they can take on the roles of an adult, in order to fill what is missing in the family. But they do this at the cost of their childhood! They can play the roles of Little Daddy, Little Mommy, Rescuer, Scapegoat, or any number of other roles, until they become the role, losing their sense of identity in the process. All spontaneity, creativity, awe, and wonder go out the window, along with their deepest feelings and intuitions! These young children become pseudo-adults, always calculating their next move, trying to control the hostile adult world that they are saddled with. They have no time to grieve their very real losses, nor anyone to validate their fears, grief, or outrage over the loss of a safe, protected environment, in which it is safe to be a child!
- The “voice” within me, the voice of the child within me, is not a voice of authority. It is the voice of experience. It is the voice of a child who’s been there, and survived against impossible odds.
- As an adult, I could minimize the pain I endured as a child, and continue to abandon that child within me, as he was abandoned in so many ways growing up- but I will not! It is that part of me which can embrace the pain of others; that part of me which sees the world with gentle eyes, not with the eyes that are blinded by the pain of injuries never acknowledged! I embrace that child within me- that spontaneous, creative, intuitive, adventurous, magical part of myself, that experiences the world through feeling! It is that part of myself which speaks to you, now, of the plight of children around us, and within us, and it beckons, gently, to that child within you, to awaken!
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