child abuse


I really appreciate the feedback as it helped to get different perspectives as well as validated my feelings that what is going on is not normal. I couldn’t focus my thoughts enough to write all that went down regarding the mark but I have now even though it seems disappointingly irrelevant at this point.

I saw the mark on Bunny’s bottom, early Saturday evening as he was undressing to take a bath. It was such an unnatural color that at at first I was sure it was paint or marker – that he must have sat in egg dye or something. But when I casually asked him what the mark was, he confusedly looked behind himself and exclaimed he didn’t know, almost as though he hadn’t noticed it before. At that point, I looked closer and realized, it was not, in fact, any sort of paint or marker or dye, it was his skin. Not only was it bright, bright red but it was also warm to the touch, much like a sunburn and it was slightly inflamed, the red part of the skin, rising slightly above the fair part. The difference, though not apparent at first, was actually very distinct, as the mark was precisely rectangular. That’s when I grabbed my camera, under the guise that if he could clearly see the mark, maybe it would help him remember what happened, but even though he gamely agreed, he absolutely could not tell me how he got it.

Understanding that he might be afraid, I told him that I would absolutely not be angry with him no matter what he told me, but that it was important that he share with me how he got hurt so that I could keep it from happening again. Bunny didn’t get upset or angry. On the contrary, he was practically disappointed when he couldn’t remember anything, as though he were letting me down. I tried specifics as well. I asked him if a kid had done it or a grown up; he said neither. I asked him if either his mom or his dad hat hurt him or caused the mark. Again, he said no. I knew he had attended a birthday party earlier in the day and asked him if anyone had hurt him at the party or if he had gone anywhere or done anything that might have caused a mark like that. Again, nothing.

I asked him if it hurt, and he shrugged casually saying it stung a bit. Finally, after spending nearly a half hour gently trying to coerce the information out of him, I gave in. I told him to read a book and that I’d be back to help him into the bath in a few minutes. First I called Dr. D’s hospital, knowing it was a long shot (he’s an ER doc, after all) then I nervously called Winifred. Trying to keep my voice light and airy I asked her if Bunny had gotten hurt at the park during the party. Bewildered she said no, not that she knew of. Why? I explained that I had discovered a mark on his bottom.

“Oh that!” She exclaimed. “Yeah, I saw that. He must have gotten it at the party. It’s weird isn’t it? Almost looks like a burn.” Yep, I agreed. She continued that she’d forgotten to have Dr. D look at it before he left for work that afternoon. Completely unconcerned she thanked me for calling and mentioned that if Bunny wanted, after his bath, I could put some calendula cream on it and that was that.

For the second day in a row, I was shocked by the response from this mother, this social worker and was dismayed that this otherwise very caring and intelligent person could be so completely blasé when confronted with information questioning the very safety of her son.

It freaked me out.

And what do scared 19 year old girls do when they find themselves in crummy, overwhelming situations?
I called my mommy.

Luckily, we live only ten minutes away from Calamitous Casa, so I hurried about, anxiously cleaning the kitchen while Buddha rambled in his highchair, waiting for my mom to come save the day.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when simply her presence could make even the worst of scenarios, bearable, but she did hang out with Bunny and kept him occupied while I dealt with Buddha and the dinner clean up. And after their bath (during which nothing suspicious happened) she read books with him while I put Buddha to bed. She didn’t fix it all, but knowing she was there definitely calmed my nerves. I was having visions of calling CPS and them laughing at me and then getting fired only to be arrested for abuse myself and escaping from jail and having to kidnap the boys and escaping to Mexico. (Which strangely enough, my biggest logistical setback to this fiasco was the fact that neither of their cars easts are in my car.) Once they were both asleep, I thanked her for coming over and asked her to please call the therapist friend to which she gladly agreed.

Now this therapist lady, friend of my mom’s, is pretty cool and I trust her because ever since my soon to be 8 year old cousin Pepper started seeing her a while back, he’s slowly become an actually tolerable human being. I’m telling you, this woman is a miracle worker. Anyhow, my mom is friends with her through church, so she spoke to Miracle Worker Therapist Lady on Sunday and shared with her what I had observed the last couple of days. MWTL agreed that the penis incident was rather unusual and a bit too specific and she shared in my surprised that Winifred, a social worker herself, wasn’t more alarmed by the behavior. She continued that because Bunny didn’t say who or what caused the mark or how he got it, there’s apparently nothing I or CPS can do about it. Even though isolated they are strange, and combined they are rather suspicious, the two incidents alone (or together) are not enough to warrant calling the authorities as there is no concrete evidence to support any theories of abuse. She did say that I should continue to be vigilant of Bunny’s behavior in case anything else does occur to further implicate an abusive situation.

So I was rather disappointed and a bit peeved that everyone else seemed to be playing down what happened and shrugging it off as though I’m some sort of hypochondriac nanny. After Winifred left today, I did casually ask Dr. D if he figured out what had happened to Bunny’s bottom. He distractedly muttered that his conjecture was that Bunny must have sat upon or scraped it against something while at the park, but that it was healing fine … and with that he returned to the elusive land of lucid-only-to-himself-and-his-genius-thoughts bubble world that he is a frequent resident of.

So there you have it. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of the road at the moment with regards of what I can reasonably do. It sucks, really. I’m stuck in this warped limbo, just waiting. On the one hand, I want to be wrong, I so want to be wrong. I want nothing more to happen, no more touching, no more marks – I want to just be overreacting. And on the other hand, I almost wish something else would happen, that Bunny would exhibit the behavior once more, as it would give me a reason to take action. But as it is, I’ve been gridlocked. I’m playing the waiting game.

Whoever said patience was a virtue needs to be shot – or whatever the pacifist alternative to that is.

Advertisements

What is the likelihood that yesterday’s overtly sexual behavior and this mark today, are two completely unrelated incidents?

hairpulling.jpg

I had one of those days today.  The ones where I just want to go home, get a hug from my mom and curl up in bed and be thankful that unlike other (real) parents, I can go home and detox from the crazy little munchkins that rule my life.

Calling Bunny a handful would be like calling the grand canyon a crevice. If there is one word to describe him, it’s volatile. But no, today I’m not going to get into Bunny’s extensive behavioral issues. No, I’ll save that for when I’m really in need of blogging fodder. Today, there was one main issue that really, well, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

It was almost time for me to go home and after an excruciatingly long day with the two of them (damn you Easter/Passover!) I was looking forward to collapsing in a heap on my bed. Of course, just when I think that Bunny is really shaping up, he reminds me why it is that I am so thankful for the fact that he has school five days a week now. I was giving Bunny and Buddha a bath this evening, which under normal circumstances would have been a somewhat daunting task anyway. But the fact that Buddha had only napped for 40 minutes this morning was not helping matters. Mostly, however, it was Bunny’s ever increasing hysterics that were beginning to unravel me. Though I had calmly given him a twelve minute warning (and then reminded him again at 5 and 2 minutes respectively) that we would have to collect his toys and head inside, he had adamantly refused to cooperate and instead had insisted on yelling and sprinting wildly through the backyard before finally flinging himself in a small pool of mud that he had previously created with the garden hose. We were already a good twenty minutes off schedule by the time I finally had settled him down enough to be able to go inside and start the bath. Anyway, despite my best efforts at redirection and my reminders that he needed to control himself and settle down, he continued to spiral out of control, only becoming semi-calm for moments at a time – just long enough to fool me into believing that it would stick.

In the immediate minutes following, despite my warnings, threats and directions he pulled Buddha’s hair, took away his bath toys, and poured water on his head. In any other moment, I would have taken him out of the tub and secluded him outside so he could be by himself and calm down, however Winifred had planned on taking the boys out to dinner at five and it was already five after five so I did my best to protect Buddha while simultaneously trying to scrub the mud and grime off of the both of them. So when the incident happened in the tub, I was on my eighth hour at work and frazzled.

“What are you doing?” I asked in my most calm voice possible despite the fact that I wanted to rip him out of the tub and send him outside, mud, water, sand and all.

“I’m putting my penis in Buddha’s bottom.” He informed me in a rather pleased tone. And indeed he was attempting to do just that. Sitting directly behind Buddha he had scooted forward and was tugging at his penis directing it straight towards Buddha’s unsuspecting little heiner crack.

“That is not okay.” I replied in an as matter-of-fact tone as I could muster.
“Bunny, stop.” I instructed him, giving him a moment to acquiesce before continuing.
“That is not alright. You need to keep your penis to yourself.” And with that I put my hand on his shoulder and urged him to the other side of the tub.

Maybe if it had ended there, I wouldn’t have worried, however, less than a minute later, as I was reaching for the shampoo behind me, I caught him, yet again, straddling Buddha while touching his penis to his bottom. Perhaps  too harshly, I  again demanded that he stop immediately and reiterated that he keep his penis to himself.

“Why?” He asked me defiantly while laughing.

Refusing to be baited into one of his classic arguments I simply repeated that he needed to control his behavior and keep his body away from Buddha’s. This is the same mantra I use whenever he is physically aggressive towards Buddha (hitting, kicking, pushing etc.) When he refused to back off, I picked up a fussy, sudsy Buddha and placed him on the opposite end of the tub, instructing Bunny to stand up while I finished rinsing him off.

Finally, after a full blown tantrum during which I had to physically drag a kicking and screaming Bunny out of the tub and out of the bathroom itself, and after I consoled, dried and dressed a cranky Buddha and had buckled him into his car seat, I dashed inside to have a quick word with Winifred while Dr. Doormat was helping Bunny into the car.

I’m not sure what I expected from her, but considering she’s an LCSW, her off-handed reaction was certainly not it. With a nonchalant scoff and a roll of her eyes she explained, unperturbed that some of “the kids at school are playing that game” and that she herself had previously witnessed a similar interaction with one of his friends in the showers after swim class. Flabbergasted I shared with her what I had said to Bunny about keeping his body/penis to himself and she nodded, adding that that was practically verbatim what she had told him earlier. And with that, she brushed me off and hurried out the door.

Maybe I’m completely overreacting. Maybe my radar is too sensitive to these things, but something does not sit right with me about this at all.
Last October we found out that one of my other moonbeams, little Abuelito, had been sexually abused by a young male, teenage sitter and the way it came to his parents’ attention was due to his acting out the molestation with another child.

So perhaps, I’m simply overly cautious  from that experience, but I just have a bad feeling about this.

My father has seven brothers, of which at least two were/are excessively friendly with some of us female nieces. One of my very first memories, albeit fuzzy, dark and faded, is of being an underwear clad four year old exclaiming “no” to my uncle MoFo in response to his behind-grabbing invitation to sit in his lap. I learned very quickly to try and avoid him at all costs. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to deem it abuse, especially as I have no definitive memories of him doing anything more than simply touching inappropriately and making lewd comments, it definitely makes me that much more inclined to want to protect Bunny and Buddha at all costs.

I’ve been pouring through my child development textbook and reading all I can online and haven’t been able to find anything definitive regarding this type of sexual play in children. On the one hand, play acting and exploration are a normal part of a child’s burgeoning sexuality, but the incredibly specific nature of this incident doesn’t feel like ‘normal’ playing to me. It’s not as though I don’t have experience with the sexual explorations of young children. I’ve been witness to preschool boys comparing penises and of young siblings touching themselves or each other in the bath, but I have never seen anything to this extent before and it unsettles me. And what’s worse is Winifred’s off-handed reaction to it all. Up to this point, I haven’t really disagreed (and if I have, I’ve kept it to myself) about any of her parenting choices, but it makes me uncomfortable that we have such drastically different points of view about this.

And again, it’s very likely that I’m overreacting, but I talked to my mom about it today when I got home and asked her to please call a child therapist friend of hers so I can get an unbiased, professional opinion about it. I guess I’d just rather be safe than sorry.

apocalyptotitle.jpg

My father is very proud of his Maya Lenca heritage. Nevermind that he gets his height, his forehead and his last name from his Basque and Spanish ancestry. As far as he’s concerned, the European in him is irrelevant. So when he asked me to go see Apocalypto with him, I agreed despite the fact that I’d heard very bad things about the movie. I’m not one of those people who harbors deep feelings of resentment towards Mr. Mel, either. When everyone was gasping and shaking their heads at Mel Gibson’s jew scandal hoopla? Yeah, I didn’t really care. If anyone knows anything about stupid drunken behavior it’s moi. Glass houses and whatnot. Besides, I don’t think my dad has ever sat down and watched a movie with his kids. Not once. That and he was paying.
I never saw the Passion of the Christ but I heard that it was incredibly violent, and I heard similar accounts of the intense violence in this movie but I wasn’t really that worried. I’m not squeamish in the least. Hell, I’m one of those freaks who thinks blood and gore is fascinating. In fact, I’ve been known to watch the discovery health channel like it’s going off the air. And I actually look forward to getting my blood drawn so I can watch. Weird, I know. So color me apalled when not once but three times during the movie, I actually had to look away because certain scenes were just that gruesome. I’ve seen my fair share of gory horror flicks but this was beyond twisted. It takes a really disturbed mind to enjoy something like that. This is the kind of movie that serial killers would masturbate to. Mel Gibson has much more serious problems than his racism. It was sick. I’m talking you might as well admit him now because there is no way someone could think up such depravity and perversion and not be a total psychopath. At least with the Passion, he was depicting a real story. But he just fabricated this entire thing soley for the purpose of depicting death. And for what? I don’t buy into the whole it’s an allegory for imperialism bullshit. Nevermind that the movie is full of blatant (and racist) misrepresentations of Mayan culture and is loaded with historic inaccuracies that any ninth grade history student should be able to recognize. Yes, the cinematography was beautiful and the use of Yucatec Mayan language was an interesting touch, but it creates this faux-authenticity that falsely gives the viewer the impression that what they’re watching is real.
Needless to say, I hated the movie. I was disgusted and apalled and when the predictable ending faded out to the credits I grabbed my stuff and demanded to leave as fast as possible.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the wave of even more intense horror that I felt when, as we were exiting the theater, a large latino family filed out, three of whose members were under the age of ten. I audibly gasped as I saw a little girl in a white flowered dress, who couldn’t have been older than five, holding her (presumably) mother’s hand as they walked out of the dark theater and into the lighted hallway.

What. the. Fuck!?

I can’t even verbalize the intensity of the anger and shame that surged through me.
My brother went with us and at 15 even he is deemed too young to go watch such a movie without a parent. And for good reason! The R for Restricted is not just an arbitrary classification; it’s there so that the public can take into account the content of a movie prior to seeing it or letting their children see it. What would possess anyone to take their small child to go see something like this? But this wasn’t even just the ignorance of one person. The entire family was there. There were at least four other adults in addition to the little gir’s mother and a set of twin boys in matching outfits who looked to be about eight or nine, as well. How can an entire family be so irresponsible as to expose their children to such gratuitious violence? This isn’t some questionable cartoon; it’s graphic torture, rape and murder; images that made me wince in repugnance! And they sat there and not only allowed but encouraged their children to watch. Even if they truly had no idea that the movie was going to be so deliberately and vehemently violent, after the opening sequence where a group of natives graphically slaughter and then slice up a boar, dividing it up and doling out various bloody body parts, I think any sane person would be able to conclude that maybe such a movie isn’t so appropriate for elementary aged children. But they didn’t leave! Not when the first massacre of a little village took place or when the prisoners were tortured and beaten. Or at any time during the entire 2 hour bloodfest. No. They sat there and allowed their three children to sit and watch. I felt and still do feel sick just thinking about it. This crosses the line. It’s beyond irresponsible or even bad parenting; it’s child abuse. These people intentionally exposed their children to images and themes that not only are they too young to be able to grasp but that are intense to the point that they could cause significant psychological trauma.
I’m beyond words. And I’m fucking pissed off. Igorance is no excuse for poor parenting decisions. And classifying this as poor parenting choice is putting it very mildly. Quite possibly the shittiest part of it all is that these people probably don’t even realize that they’re doing anything wrong and I’m sure there are thousands of other parents who are behaving in the same manner and subjecting their children to such awful things.
And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

So, fuck you Mel Gibson. Fuck you.

I just talked to my mom today and I found out that Abuelito was recently sexually abused by a fourteen year old boy who was a friend of their family and who occasionally cared for him and his sister. I’m so angry at the world, I just don’t know what to do or how to feel. I’m furious and I don’t know who to be angry at. He’s only four years old! He’s a little boy and he doesn’t deserve this. Apparently it happened a few months ago but they just recently became aware of it when Abuelito acted out the molestation with another boy at his preschool. Because it occurred at school, CPS had to be called in and the police were in involved. The mother of the older boy, who committed the abuse was originally very cooperative but when Abuelito’s moms tried to talk to the boy and his father the family shut down and hired an attorney. The two families attend the same church and the churchmembers are angry with Abuelito’s parents for involving the authorities and supposedly blowing the situation out of proportion. And in the midst of all of this, are the two boys. Because as much as I want to be angry at the kid who did this to Abuelito, I know he’s suffering as well, and at some point he was probably a victim of abuse himself. My mom took care of Abuelito and Donna last night because their parents had some work thing to attend to and according her, Abuelito is very removed and he refused her help when getting ready for bed. My heart just breaks for him. He’s such a sweet, affectionate, loving little boy full of joy and enthusiasm and the fact that somebody took away his innocence just devastates me. I can’t even imagine what his moms are going through. They’ve been through so much as it is, but this is just so much more than any parent should ever have to deal with. I just … I’m so shocked, I can barely vocalize any of this. Kissing this boo boo just won’t cut it. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair.