The Little Ones

This poem is about a panic attack I had at my workplace when a known child abuser touched my hand. I don’t quite remember what happened, only that I was so disgusted that I was left horrified when she gave me her change. If I was so scared, how must her children feel?

Pain is felt where you’ve touched me,

though I know you’ve never hurt me.

But those same hands have hurt others,

ones I call sisters and brothers.

Why you’ve used such caring arms

to cause the little ones some harm,

I never will quite understand

how you rationalize your backhand.

So as I catch my rasping breath,

winded from the pain you’ve left,

I can only imagine the fear they face

even when they catch your gaze.

If only there was something to say

that could suddenly change your ways,

but sworn to secrecy I was told

of those scars that now seem old,

to those who bore them in the past

who hope they will never last.

I used to be a camp counsellor for a family of children who lived with a split up family. All three children were precious, especially the older one who was living with autism. All children lived with their father who would drop them off at camp and their grandmother would pick them. However, after camp was over for the week, I was melancholy with the thought that I would never see them again. Fortunately, about a month later, I was working at McDonalds, when their mother drove through the drive through with her kids. As the kids knew who I was, they became excited to see me yet I was surprised they were with their mother. I shook off this odd feeling and it soon became a ritual to see these children come to McDonalds with their mom.

About three months later, they stopped coming and the mother would come by herself; I always said hello even through she may not have recognized me. This went on for quite a while until March Break when my sister was the eldest daughter’s camp leader. At this time, the only individual with access to the children was their aunt, as it was soon learned that the previous caretakers had physically abused all three children, specifically the oldest. When I learned this, I couldn’t believe how nice I had been to these individuals and felt disgusted by their behavior but more disgusted with myself.

A month after March Break, I was working at McDonalds and their mother came into the store. The moment I recognized her, I felt sick to my stomach; how could this mother even lay a hand on her precious children? She sat in McDonalds for four hours and I had to work near her and in her presence even though, all I wanted to do was kick her out of the store, yet I had been told of the abuse in confidence from the aunt. She soon came up and ordered a tea, and as she handed me her change, her hand grazed mine, the same hand that had gripped, hit and abused her children. I immediately wanted to vomit, however, I just stood there, frozen, hyperventilating. I think she asked me what was wrong but I don’t remember. I didn’t speak. I handed her the¬†change and her receipt. I left the front counter area and sat in the back crew room until I wasn’t allowed anymore. I couldn’t bare to ever see her again.

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