“They can’t wake her up. They’ve tried, but they can’t rouse her.” Her voice cracked as she pled with me. “Can anyone go over there right now?” Clearly, she was desperate, and in a shaky voice, she fed me more of the story. “They need help. Please.”
It happened around 7:00 this morning, and when my phone had sounded, it was the grandmother whose voice I heard, who, from another state, was calling me here in Lake Havasu. “They’re ready to go to school, but they can’t arouse their mother. They need help,” again she pled with me.
I tried to calm her, immediately saying I would drive over and see what I could do. After giving me the house address and directions, she tried to tell me her cell phone number, but she was so distraught, she could not recall her own number. Quickly, both Jerry and I dressed, got in our car and drove to the address. A police car was in front of the house when we arrived. The house was quiet as I stood before the entry door, and I wondered if the children had been taken away already, but after I knocked softly, I turned the handle and it opened. Another couple was there, (trusted neighbors, I learned, whom the grandmother had also called) along with the brightly-smiling little girls who ran across the room, and as I bent down, who enveloped me with their tiny arms. I could not help myself, and although I tried to avert my face so they would not see, I wept.
Drugs, alcohol, drunkenness, fighting in the home, father in prison now–I just can’t go into more details because of privacy issues, but trust me, this is going on in an upper middle class home where live three of the most charming, beautiful, well-behaved children you can imagine. It is tragic.
Smiling the policewoman spoke to the girls about school. “Third day, huh?” she said. “How is it? Like your teachers?”
Beaming, those little girls brightly nodded. “I love my teacher,” one of them said.
The neighbor remarked about how nice they looked. “Look, everything matches,” he said to the little one.
“Pink,” she said. “My shoes are pink.” They were charming. They were pitiful. Standing now beside the couch, backpacks ready, they eagerly scanned our faces, seemingly unaffected (likely this is not so; they are probably extensively scarred) by the chaos surrounding them.
“Your skirt is beautiful,” I said to the middle child.
“I wore it to church Sunday,” she said softly, as she turned her stunning face to look into mine.
“No one’s in trouble,” the policewoman assured the children, who sat now on the couch. “Everything’s okay.”
Once, the policewoman beckoned to the oldest child. I watched, as, with a large backpack on her narrow shoulders, that frail little girl–not yet a teenager–stood before the towering policewoman and answered questions. I ached for her.
The mom was awake now, still in the bedroom, and the policewoman went back and forth with discussions, the mom finally deciding the neighbors should drive the children to school.
“We’re leaving now,” the policewoman said as she walked down the hall toward the bedroom of the mother. “Shall I lock the front door?”
She had taken my name earlier, and as we stepped outside, the policewoman told me, “She claims she was just so tired she did not wake up. Denies any other problems.” She paused, then added, “I will be calling Child Protective Services, though. They will take it from here.”
The children are at school. CPS has been notified. The grandmother is on her way to Lake Havasu.
I’ve not written this piece merely to report on my activities this morning, but rather to plead for the children of our world. I’m pleading for parents with children in your home to stop drinking and to stop taking illegal drugs. It is likely you are wounding your children. I’m asking you to stop fighting, and to stop neglecting your children. I’m painfully aware of drug problems, and although I have never been an addict myself, I work closely with many, and have a clear understanding of how difficult it is to break these addictions. But it can be done. Others have done so. You, too, can do it.
I’m pleading with others: Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors–if we are aware of such wounded children, let us softly, but effectively tend them. It is hard work, risky, frightening, and sometimes unpleasantly confrontational. But it must be done. Some are brave enough to take on this challenge; one is a grandmother who at this moment is on her way to Lake Havasu to fight for her grandchildren.
Yesterday, on the phone my daughter asked if I was okay. I’m fine, I assured her. Why did she ask. Your writings have been so intense and full of angst lately, she said, and that had caused her to worry a little and wonder if everything was okay.
Everything is fine, I assured her, and on considering my recent writings, I somewhat agreed with her, and decided to write something light today…until my phone rang around 7:00 this morning….