My Fear, Right Out There For All The World To See

So there was that incident at school where Micah's aide was accused of abusing him. The allegations included verbally yelling at him, pulling his hair and not allowing him to interact with typically-developing peers on occasion. Before you all react the way any normal human would, THESE WERE FALSE ALLEGATIONS. But there is so much to be said about this.

I worry about things like this - or worse - happening to Micah. I worry about it at school and in public restrooms and anywhere that I can't see my boy and know exactly what is going on in his life at that very second. Being nonverbal sucks a lot of the time, but in instances like this it sucks so much more. What does one do to protect kids who cannot talk? They seem like the easiest targets ever because they can't tattle to parents, teachers, police or anyone who could be in a position to help. They're simply victims. Helpless ones with no voice. Which pretty much makes them the perfect prey.

I was recently asked what fears I have. Things like zombies and spiders and intruders and the dark rank zero with me. They just don't. I'm not a fan of spiders and rats and will involuntarily scream on occasion when confronted with one when I least expect it, but I do not fear them. I am bigger and stronger and can squash them with my foot. Poisonous things are more afraid of me than I am of them, the dark is simply a lack of light, I have guns to protect me from intruders (and have taken that gun on a tour of the house when I thought there was an actual intruder once) and zombies aren't even real. But I have a very real fear of someone messing with my children. I live with this fear daily. Three out of four of my kids can mostly take care of themselves or get help as needed, but if you mess with that fourth one it will bring out the mama bear in me so fast you'll wonder what kind of Mack-truck-grizzly-bear-Sasquatch-thing just mauled you nearly to death but spared your life for the sole reason of remembering that pain forever. But this is only if you're caught. My nonverbal son may not be able to effectively communicate to me that something happened that most definitely should not have, and that thought surpasses fear and goes straight to nightmare status.

When I was first made aware of the above alleged abuse against my son, the first thing I did was ask what type of things were happening. Getting information helps make good decisions. Or assess the level of damage that needs to happen as a result. When I realized that nothing horribly physical was happening, I was able to breathe enough clear my head and think things through.

1. I know Micah's aide well. This is my responsibility. If I have someone spending more one-on-one hours a day with my boy than I do, I need to know as much about that person as I possibly can. I talk with her about her grown children, her second job that she does after school and on weekends, her faith and morals, her dedication on researching Micah-related things like apraxia and sign language and thrush. I know that she loves Micah like her own kid, and I trust her instinctively to do the right thing where he is concerned. When my biggest complaint about her is that sometimes she can be over vigilant about things like a slight rash, that is a very good thing. You can't fault someone for caring too much, now can you?

2. I know the school and the teachers in it. It helps that I work at the school on occasion and have gotten to know a lot of teachers on a level that a random parent doesn't achieve, but I know the teachers there are good people. If something would be happening that shouldn't be, things would not have been hush-hush. I would have been made aware of anything shady or abusive long before a random parent had the opportunity to tell me. (And I'm grateful for random parents telling me. We have got to have each other's backs in this parenting gig.)

3. I know Micah's teacher personally. I went to school with her when I was Micah's age, and was thrilled beyond words when I found out she was going to be Micah's teacher when our home district started a Life Skills class. She spends far more time in a day with both Micah and his aide than any other teachers do at the school, and there is nothing she'd allow that would even turn its head to the dark and shady side much less put a foot on the path. Micah is not a fan of this because he is a recipient of that "keep your eyes on the straight and narrow" teaching, and while he would sometimes like to be a bit more of a practical joker or allowed temper tantrums in the classroom, I'm grateful that she nixes them. And that she would never tolerate, condone or turn a blind eye to abuse of any form.

Because of these three points, I was able to breathe during that day the school conducted an extensive investigation. Because of these three points, I instinctively knew that Micah was just fine, even if I wholeheartedly supported the investigation to be sure my instincts weren't off for some reason. But these three reasons all base around the fact that I know the people in Micah's school world, and I know them well. And that brings us right back to the nightmare that faces me every day when Micah is away from me because I do not know the people he comes into contact with, nor their moral or lack thereof. Is it ever okay to let my nonverbal baby grow up?

And then I just pray, because the only thing that I can do is trust that God most certainly loves Micah far more than I ever could, as unfathomable as that seems to me on occasion. And God is very aware that Micah, and those like him, need more grace than the general populace does. And while I have faith that God is always looking out for Micah and his best interest, I also lack faith to just stop worrying altogether. I guess it's a human thing. And goes hand in hand with being a mom. But honestly, is it ever okay to let my nonverbal baby grow up?





Warning: One Vulgar W*rd Because We Lack Adjectives

In a conversation with someone recently, I heard the expression, "he's a little sh*t." While I'm not one to use vulgar language, I know the real world uses it. I'm not totally offended by the usage; I just choose not to use it myself, or allow my kids to. The reason is simple: I have a strong personal belief that vulgar language and its slang counterpart that the world invented to replace vulgar words but we all know means the same thing is just a replacement for good language skills. 

In short, thoughtful communication is dying. So is the dictionary.

I'll fully admit to being guilty of using the slang counterparts aforementioned, which makes me a total hypocrite. Just so we're clear on that fact.

The conversation I had with that stranger made me think some weird thoughts, mostly because the daughter of the lady who made that statement was all faux-horrified with a, "Mom!" comment. My first thought was, "well, I guess she could have said "poop," because we all know that's what sh*t means." In the literal sense. I understand that in this context it was used more to say, "he's just a handful of orneriness." But honestly, why the need to call someone "poop?" Can we not think of something better to say? And then my mind yelled, "stinker! That would have been a replacement word!," to which I replied to myself, "but again, you're calling someone something related to poop, and has nothing to do with the actions of someone or something."

And that's when I realized that language is slowly dying to vulgarity and slang. And I wept a bit for the loss of the need for a dictionary or a thesaurus. It seems that if anything is bad it gets the vulgar stamp, and if anything is good it gets the overused (guilty!) "awesome" label. We as a species are weeding out thought while we speak. We no longer have the ability to reason that if the sunset is glowing orange and pink it could be gorgeous, or if we had a really rotten day it could be just that. We have become lazy in our speech. Is anyone surprised by this?

Adjectives. I'm fairly certain we will have them taken out of school grammar books in the next decade because a small handful of "this means so many things" words will replace an entire dictionary of highly descriptive content. That would not be awesome.