In the course of my lifetime, I’ve read and heard about a lot of horrible things that have happened to children. And I don’t exaggerate when I say I feel pain when I hear about them. Especially since having a child of my own. It’s a phenomenon that happens to us women when we become mothers. As if every child is in some way ours.
When a child is hurt on account of the unavoidable – disease, accidents – it pains me. But I also know it is life. And what can you do about it? So I deal with it.
You know what I CAN’T deal with? What isn’t in the “it’s life” category?
When a child suffers at the hands of his/her mother. This I cannot handle. This is when I am most horrified. Because this is so fundamentally wrong. It is, in fact, a crime against nature. Because if nowhere else, a child should be safe with his/her mother. It is within us mothers on a cellular level to protect our children.
So yesterday, when I heard about the fate of little 5 year-old SHANIYA DAVIS, I literally had trouble breathing. Seriously, I had to pull over and sit in my car for a few minutes, so overcome by the horror of it all. Because it should never have happened.
This is a little girl whose mother ANTOINETTE sold her into prostitution then told police that she had vanished from their mobile home.
Hotel survellience video shows Shaniya being taken into a hotel by a man, MARIO ANDRETTE MCNEILL.
After an extensive search guided by a tip, Shaniya’s body was found yesterday in a shallow grave.
And when I heard all that, I couldn’t breathe. And then I thought, at least she is not suffering anymore. I know it sounds like a terrible way to think. I felt horribly guilty for thinking it.
But I think this because it’s the only way I can cope with the horror of what happened to that little girl. I imagine the betrayal she felt when her own mother gave her away to a stranger. I imagine her fear. I imagine that she cried for her mamma to come save her from whatever horrors befell her before she was finally killed. Horrors I cannot let myself imagine or I really would stop breathing.
And then my paralyzing horror turns to anger. An anger so fierce that I want revenge for that poor little innocent child who was 2 years younger than my own daughter. A child whose only crime was being born to a monster who, for some reason, was a defective mother. Who did not have that protective instinct.
And I don’t care what made her that way. Poverty, abuse, her own horrible childhood. There is no excuse for doing that to your own child.
And all I can say is that Shaniya’s mother and that man are lucky that their fates are not in my hands.
I know that sounds merciless. And it is. It’s positively feral the way I am feeling. I’m not sure where that comes from. Me, who normally can’t imagine hurting anyone. Who is overwhelmed with such tenderness when I think of my own child. Who does everything to make sure that Julia’s childhood is as good and idyllic as is humanly possible.
Maybe such ferocity of anger comes from that feeling I mentioned earlier that once we become moms, we feel that all children are in some way our own. Maybe it comes from the dark side of my brain that imagines what I would do if someone ever hurt my child. Truthfully, I suspect it is linked to the very same gene that makes mothers instinctively want to protect their child. Two sides of the same coin I think.
And I have no trouble imagining what I would do to the animals who would perpetrate such atrocities against an innocent child. I would….
Okay. I need to take a breath. And give my kid an extra hug tonight. Be sure to give your kids one too.
Consider giving to a children’s charity this holiday season . Children deserve our protection. Following are some suggestions:
Child Advocates www.childadvocates.org
Child Welfare League of America www.cwla.org
Children’s Defense Fund www.childrensdefense.org