This evening, my 3 and-a-half year old son pretended to read. He used his finger to follow the shapes of words moving slowly from left to right. I watched him turn a framed poem by Khalil Gibran into a window wherein I could view his evolving and unfolding consciousness.
“Look Mama, Daddy wrote me a letter!” He smiled and began reading.
“Dear Taber, thank you for this day… ”
The beginning sounded like the prayers we say at meal time and I smiled. He continued to read and covered a few topics of perennial interest like fire trucks and fishing. “Isn’t this nice Mama? It’s a really nice letter.”
Then he said… “I won’t hit you.”
Followed by, “That’s so nice. Thank you Daddy.”
His imaginary letter reading continued: “I want to be safe with you.”
“Ah, Daddy, that’s so nice!”
I looked at his face — he was beaming with joy. I’ve heard my husband Clark express these heartfelt pledges of parental protection to our son on a few occasions. “I won’t ever hit you Taber. You are safe with me.” Given the outbursts of harm that haunted Clark’s childhood, I know how much these words mean.
We can consciously and powerfully transform painful patterns passed down through generations. The ugliness of physical or emotional violence need not touch our children. Watching my son express genuine happiness as he reflected upon the the fact that our home is safe — that he is safe — inspires me deeply.
I’ve written about the need to end the corporal punishment of children and I commit myself to reading, researching, and examining the impact of trauma on the developing human brain. Currently, I’m 1/4 of the way through The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Love, Loss, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry. I can’t recommend it more highly.
I hope to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children through writing, advocacy, and — later in life — through adoption and/or foster care. I want every child to feel joyful and safe. Please join me in this work.
“I won’t hit you.”
“Thank you Daddy.”