This morning I was going through my Facebook feed and came across a video shared by one of the girls on the volleyball squad I help coach. The video depicted a woman beating the hell out a screaming child, probably 6-8 months old, with a pillow, slapping it across the head and bouncing stuff off it’s head. The child started to calm down and began crawling to it’s mother for comfort, she shoved it over then started hitting it, making it scream all over again.
Why? Why would you do that? Truthfully, I couldn’t watch every second of the video. It was over 4 minutes in length. After seeing just the first 30 seconds, I was close to tears. I just skipped through the rest of the video to get an idea of how the rest of the story played out. I don’t understand how someone could sit idly by and not only watch someone do this to an infant, but actually record it and post it online!
I have smacked my eldest daughter on several occasions over her 4 years life to date. I say with absolutely honesty that every time it has been one smack with an open hand. That is it. There have been a small handful of occasions that I’ve smacked her a little harder than I intended, but on every occasion, once I realized the fact, I picked her up in my arms and apologized, then explained to her why she got a smack and that I was sorry I smacked her that hard. Every other time, it was hard enough to make skin a little pink, but not leave a welt or anything like that.
I rarely smack Hayden, as she’s barely 14 months old and still doesn’t really understand what’s going on, but when I do, its always on her hands with my fingers and never leaves a mark. Most of the time, she just looks at me like “what did you do that for?” then moves right along!
What I saw in this video was straight up child abuse. I would consider that torture. This woman was just beating on the child just to hear it cry as best I could tell. Granted, they were of some kind of southeast asian ethnic group, based on what I could hear them saying and the look of them, so they probably don’t know much better, but I don’t know that many people would condone that kind wanton violence against a child, no matter what culture they’re from. To see this pitiful little child actually crawl up to its mother, clearly wanting some kind of comfort from her, only to see her throw him aside and continue her assault is heart breaking.
As parents, our number one duty is to protect our children. Sometimes that even means protecting them from ourselves! There has been many occasions where I know I’ve been close to my breaking point with my children. On those occasions, I’ve put them in their rooms and taken myself as far away as I can get from them, while still being able to hear them. Usually, after just 10 minutes, I’ve calmed down enough that I can come back and get them out of their room and hopefully things will settle down.
My wife has told me on many occasions that sometimes I’m just cold, emotionally speaking. No show of emotion. I just shut everything down and don’t respond. I wouldn’t argue with that at all. Unfortunately, that’s a learned response I had to develop several years ago and it’s one that is taking some time to unlearn. I know sometimes my daughters see that side of me and it must hurt their feelings, but I feel like is slowly melting away.
Of all the things I’ve done in my life, becoming a father is by far the most challenging and most rewarding of them all. Knowing that I am responsible for how these two beautiful girls experience life and the world around is a little overwhelming at times, I have to say. I can only hope as they grow older, they will understand that they are loved, cherished and very much wanted. That’s all we can hope for in the end.