Posted by: pendrops | February 6, 2007

this monster


I watched them for almost an hour. At first, the little boy, about five or six, skipped to the table next to mine, energetic after a long day of school. He excitedly motioned for his mother (who I mistook for his grandma). I smiled, not noticing anything strange until I heard this mother mocking her son, pointing to his school papers.

“Why can’t you do it right? What’s wrong with you?” She sneered this in a tone most would reserve only for their worst enemy. “Where’s your sister?” she hissed a minute later.

She left the boy and returned with the girl, eight or nine, blonde hair and pink shoes. She jerked her arm and yanked her coat off of her, glancing up in time to realize I’d caught her in this act. I stared her down until she looked away, then I watched the girl proceed to arrange her scarf and gloves over her coat. This mother wrenched the girl’s arm and slapped her hand away from the scarf. “Just let me do it the way I like to,” the girl pleaded in a gentle tone.

A few minutes later, hunched over her homework, the girl whispered, “Mother, Mother? Can I tell you a story? Mother, Mother, Mother?” The woman never raised her head. Still hopeful, the blue-eyed girl got up with her colorful workbook, shared her story in silent tones, and pointed at the pictures. “That’s amazing, isn’t it?” she asked the clench-jawed woman.

I smiled, warmed by the sweetness. “She’s not broken yet. Thank you, God,” I thought. (I wonder how long it will take.) The girl stood there, waiting for an answer, still pointing at the picture, but the woman only looked up to tell her son how horrible his handwriting was, smiling as she whispered more hate into his ear: “That’s not correct.”

My heart broke as the girl and boy continued trying to talk to the woman, their hearts spilling out some brand of kindness I’d never seen, especially in the face of such derision, such contempt.

I know kids can push buttons, exasperate, bring out the worst in a parent. But this was more than exasperation and impatience. And I don’t know where this woman came from, where she’s going, what her life is like. I want to understand, I do. But I just can’t. I’m racking my brain for a reason to treat a child that way. And I’m doing all I can to hold back and not put a severe hurting on this woman, this monster. (I could easily whomp her.)

I’m angry. I’m sad. My spirit is crushed for these kids. I’d take them home in a heartbeat. But I can’t. There’s not a thing I can do. “Have mercy,” I uttered under my breath, as they packed up their things.

My eyes filled up with tears when the girl looked up and smiled at me with her angel face, just before they walked away. I smiled back. She didn’t know the tears on my face were for her.



  1. I’m beginning to wonder more and more if we, as followers of Christ, need to begin to not just silently morn for the truly helpless (as in these two kids). Is there good that can come from openly confronting such a mother in righteous anger, pointing out her emotional abuses and placing the shame she extols back in its proper place, upon her?

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