Wednesday, 12 September 2012


In the town yesterday, by the bank, I watched a man and his little boy.  The child was maybe three – still on reins but looking a bit old for that.  You would have had to keep me on reins too, to make me stay with that man.   Tall and meaty, glum, tattooed, buzz-cut hair, surly.  The child cried persistently.  Every now and then the man said to him “Shut up,” in a dispassionate, uninvolved kind of way.  Through his tears the child was trying to tell him something, ask about something, protest about something.  The only reply he got from his father was “Shut up.”

After a while, his voice full of weak despair, the child said twice, heart-felt: “Go away.”

What do you do?  How do you help?  Please don’t suggest to me I might strike up a chummy conversation with the man.  He wasn’t that kind of man, and I’m not that kind of woman.  Please don’t ask me how I know the man was the child’s father – what else would have induced him to spend five minutes of his precious time with a small child? 

There is no defence in me against this. 

I don’t go into the town very much, because there is so much evidence of similar family relationships, and it twists me up inside.  I do my shopping on the internet.

The Wretched Wretch is permanently on the go and requires constant attention.  I have never once heard his mother say to him “Shut up”.  When he cries she stops, goes to him, holds him, asks what the matter is.  If he has a tantrum she stops, talks it through with him, waits until he has command of himself and asks him to explain, then deals with the problem as he sees it.  I am a lot less patient.  Sometimes I will say, “Oh get a grip!” or “Give it a rest!” or some such unsympathetic thing.  But I cannot imagine the situation arising in our home where a child would be reduced to saying, in a voice emptied of everything but despair, “Go away”, to his parents.  I and our children’s father have character flaws by the handful, but we usually had time to listen, and we were on their side.

I tried to put this incident out of my mind, prayed the Ho’oponopono prayer all round town to soak the interface between my soul and that family with peace; but today it is still with me, and the child’s hopelessness and defeat is lodged in the pit of my stomach like a dark damp stain, bleeding into me.


365 366 Day 256 – Wednesday September 12th
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

About a million bits of assorted hardware, all Freecycled.

365 366 Day 255 – Tuesday September 11th  

 A bin.  And something that looks like the top of a lamp.  Plus whatever else was stashed inside.  What we could of these sort of bits and pieces (most of them) we Freecycled.  For the rest, our town dump had (no longer has - but the one at Mountfield has) a shop for re-usable items.


Alice Y. said...

I hear you Ember-Pen.

I don't know if it's useful - I have heard that something that makes a huge difference to neglected and abused children is having any adult acknowlege the difficult situation they are in. So sometimes if I think I can get away with it I try to make eye contact with the little one and see if I can make a facial expression that is sympathetic.

I like the sound of your prayer. I wonder if these people being on your mind still is a sign that something more is about to be opened for you, concerning their situation.


Ember said...

I like that idea. x

Rebecca said...

Oh, I could have used those "S" hooks....

And the incident in town is one on which Jesus would comment (I think) "it would be better for him that a millstone were hung around his neck and he be cast into the sea!"

What to do? What to do?

Ember said...

It breaks my heart every time, and there are so many . . .

Wimmera said...

I fell whacking them in the head with my antique umbrella.(good wood )
Dear Ember I see a lot of these idiots because I am using public transport.
Not so much in Melbourne but in a regional town (where i live a few days) a week a lot.
Not so much Fathers but dear "Mothers".

Ember said...

Umbrellas - a yes, a multi-purpose tool! x

Anonymous said...

From another perspective, the child had the wit to realize his needs were not being met and the gumption to know that, however vulnerable he might be, he would be better off without this jerk. I hope he never loses those qualities. They will ensure his survival.

Ember said...


Julie B. said...

To see these things is almost paralyzing. I experienced something similar in a grocery store awhile back, but the situation was a young man verbally abusing and intimidating his young wife or girlfriend up and down the aisles of the store, and there was a little child in the cart. I watched, stunned, as the man held his face inches from hers and hissed and low-level screamed at her and said what an imbecile she was, and so many horrible things. I felt adrenaline flood my body and I was outraged. I considered speaking with him, but as I watched I thought it would escalate the situation. I wasn't sure if I should call someone, but decided against it because the police don't arrest people for just yelling and being mean. I went outside and sat in my car, crying and praying, especially since there was a child involved. I don't remember praying so hard and fervently, crying out to God for this family. I felt undone for a long time after that, and was tempted to despair myself, because scenes like that remind us of all the pain on this planet, and if we're believers this makes us long for Another Place. Someday I hope God will allow us to see that even when we feel feeble and helpless, our prayers did make a difference. I pray for this man and this child right now, that God will apprehend them both, show them His love, show this man how to live and love, and that He would change their lives forever. And I ask Jesus to protect that little child, and bring people into his life who really can make a difference.

My flesh really, really likes the umbrella idea, though.

Thinking of you today, dear Ember....

Bean said...

Oh dear, it is such a vicious circle. I can quite imagine that 25 years or so ago the father was ill treated little boy....and so it goes violence and neglect beget violence and neglect.
What to do, what to do??? How is this circle broken, how can these damaged people be helped to live life in a circle of peace and love???
I don't know what the answers are, but I do know that we can all pray.

Blessings to you,

Ember said...

To your prayer - Amen x

Ember said...

Bean - surely, the prayers of us all could not fail to make a difference x

Julie Graff said...

It seems like many modern parents look upon their children as toys for them to play with as they wish. We all know how quickly people tire of their playthings. They are rarely viewed as a gift, or God help us, a responsibility. They are carted away at younger and younger ages to schools and back-to-back activities in hopes, I suppose, of someone else raising the children besides themselves. Or, even worse, they are literally smothered with gifts and nonsense until they are ruined. Either way, I see them being discounted and ignored most anywhere I go. Poor dears.

Ember said...

I suppose it is what Bean says - that the parent as a little child had no-one to show him how to really be with someone, and is at a loss when presented with the need for presence a child feels.x

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is wrong to take our anger on our children, but let us also remember that we do not know all the particulars of why the father responds the way he does.

I have been a mother three times over, and the frustration, the embarrassment, the anger, the tears, the sadness...all tend to roll itself into a large ball at the pit of our stomach, that causes you to just react!

Then when you realize how you have hurt that one person you love the most, you are filled with greater pain.

Yes, it is sad to have witnessed this incident and many others like it, but we must pray for that father, we don't know the whole story.


Ember said...

God bless you, friend x

gail said...

Hello Ember,
Sometimes I think we are allowed to witness this sort of thing because God needs one of His own to intervene with prayer. I agree that approaching the fellow would not have been the best course of action. I also believe you did what God needed you to do; pray. There are 9 responses to this post and I'm pretty sure we've all sent our prayers for this situation heavenward. Sometimes that's what needed. Give it to God, who has all the solutions. And yes, I too have that awful feeling in the pit of my tummy when I hear or see this type of thing. I agree with Bean, so often it's a case ofvictims of victims.
Thanks for sharing the burden.
Blessings Gail

Ember said...

:0) In my mind I see that little boy's face. May he be blessed. May his father and all of his family be blessed. May the angels of that child pilot him through the white water to a place of peace. May the hardened conditioning of mind in that family be thawed by the intervention of love. In Jesus's Name. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I was as that child and grew up for 17 years like that.
I remember in public the looks we would get from people, from my earliest memories - their eyes full of anguish, kindness and even tears, mouths tight with anger, most often saying nothing to my parent.
It was some years before I began to understand those looks, to understand that it was not ME who was the bad or shameful one, upsetting those people.
When I did come into that understanding, what a gift those looks were to me! No one ever intervened, no one ever "saved" me, my parent never changed and all I could do was move away as a teen - but those looks told me that this family dynamic, this parenting, was not right. And those looks were small part of how I removed myself and built a life that did not repeat all the unkindnesses I had known.
I'm sure I was prayed for as well. Thank you so much everyone who cares when seeing things like this!

Ember said...

Hello my friend. I am so glad you found the courage and tenacity to get through to something better. Well done. May God bless the part of your soul that still is a child, to comfort and heal. Thank you so much for writing. xxx

Donna said...

I feel for the man as well as the child. I think that the society of adults we live in is possibly as much to blame as the parent's childhood - I have felt that sense of shutting out my child's feelings, not so much because I've stopped caring about my children, but because I've felt isolated, trapped and unsupported. When inexperienced parents are left alone with their child for hours or days while their spouse (if they're lucky enough to have one) is at work, their friends are pursuing hobbies where children are not welcome, and their parents and siblings are too busy with their own lives to come around, it's hard to find the strength to keep giving. We're constantly told to teach babies "who's in charge" and "not give in" to them, and that we've got to "look after ourselves". We're not very often given the chance to fill up our own love meter, in order to keep doling the love out.

Ember said...

Good thoughts, Donna. I well remember those days!