As part of our ongoing journal project, here is our next question.
Looking back at your childhood, who in your extended family could have helped you?
Why do you think they did or didn’t?
If you were abused or neglected or treated badly as a child, certainly, some adult in your family circle — a neighbor, or a teacher — must have suspected. So, why didn’t anyone call bull-dinky on your mother? Or call CPS?
My early childhood was fine, considering we were poor, my parents didn’t get along and we were nearly always unsupervised. But I don’t think that was much different for most kids in the ‘60’s.
I can think of a neighbor (several, actually), and a grandmother who indicated through their actions that they didn’t think my mother was taking care of me very well.
What did they do?
One neighbor included me in many activities with her kids and always invited me to their country cabin for the weekend, the site of many happy memories. Other block moms doled out Band-Aids and hugs.
My grandmother, my father’s mother, did a few things equal to pointing to her own eyes with two fingers and then turning your hand to point at someone else’s eyes — as if to communicate “I see what you’re doing.” My grandmother was no dummy. My grandmother knew my mother had bad tendencies. (My parents had lived with my grandparents when they were new marrieds.) My grandmother even went so far as to kidnap me one afternoon to see if anyone would notice. They didn’t.
Factoring in “the times,” I’m grateful that even a few people put themselves in uncomfortable situations with my mother with my welfare in mind. Could they have done more?
I don’t think so. There was no family farm to send me to for a summer. No one we knew “did” boarding school because no one could afford it. At that time you didn’t butt in. I think you just tried to be nice to the kid if you could.