not okay, never okay

When I was a skinny, knobby knees and elbows, little girl in elementary school, I learned a song in music class that I thought was the best song ever. I think it was called “The Working Song”, actually I can not remember for sure; but I still know the words and the tune:

Zumgali, gali, gali, Zumgali, gali, gali

Zumgali, gali, gali, Zumgali, gali, gali

Zumgali, gali, gali, Zumgali, gali, gali

Zumgali, gali, gali, Zumgali, gali, gali

As we work we sing this song, we sing it all day long

When we reach the end of the day we will laugh and sing and be gay.

Zumgali, gali, gali, Zumgali, gali, gali…

Kind of catchy. Isn’t it?

Kind of annoying.

To an adult, definitely. Especially when some knobby kneed, little girl is loudly singing it over and over again while she is standing on a step stool at a sink full of suds washing dishes.

It was a song about working. Why not sing a happy working song when you are a small child washing the day’s dirty dishes piled into the sink?

But as a grownup now I get that this can get old and annoying very fast. Most adults might yell, “knock it off, Laura.“. Most adults likely would not react by storming into the kitchen and begin to literally beat the shit (and the song) out of a little kid with your open hand, your fists and then your thick, leather belt leaving swelling, bleeding welts on the screaming, crying child now curled up onto the kitchen floor in a protective fetal position.

At least I imagine most would not react that way.

I could tell you more…like the time my brother and I were outside bouncing a tennis ball against the house and from the view inside it seemed that I was the only one bouncing the ball. “Stop throwing that mother-fucking ball or I will beat the living shit out of you!“, he bellowed from the house. Fair enough. I stopped because what little girl wants to get the living shit beat out of her. Right? But my little brother had to throw the ball one more time. Because, little kids sometimes do things like that. And…well, I got beat up pretty bad. Because. Even after my brother tearfully told him that he did it hoping that my step-dad would stop slapping, punching, kicking me it still went on until again I was whimpering curled up into a protective fetal position.

I had handfuls of my hair pulled out. Got punched in the head a few times. There was always that damn belt after the open hand and fists failed to hit their mark I was sometimes naughty, sometimes not. But I was always the victim of someone’s anger, frustration, stress, boredom, fear or their alcohol or drug induced state of mind. I never understood why me, even if I was being naughty. I knew enough to understand that a grown man hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, beating a small child, a preteen and even a teenager was not okay…never okay…not ever.

As a parent I will not stand before you on a soapbox acting like I am perfect in the discipline of my own children. Far from it. Most children who were physically, emotionally and sexually abused, if they become parents, repeat that which they knew, in spite of knowing just how wrong it is. Knowing that truth for a long time I did not want to become a mommy. I was afraid to repeat such a violent cycle. I have spanked a few of my children with my bare hand a few times until that one day when I saw the red, swelling handprint shaped mark I left behind on the bottom of one of my girls.

That was not okay. Not okay at all.

Just as it is not okay, never okay for any grown up to hit any child…ever.

Nothing brings back the ghosts of my childhood back faster than hearing that a child has been harmed this way by a grownup. Nothing stirs up my righteous indignation faster than this. Nothing makes me angrier. Nothing any grownup can say or do will convince me that hitting a small child, a lot smaller than you is okay. It’s not. It’s never okay. Ever.

You should know that.

You should also know that I am a mandated reporter.

NaPhoPoMo day 23


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