a difficult moment

Yesterday, the Bee told me that one of her classmates (let’s call her Lily) had told her (the previous day at school) that she saw her stepfather throw her mom across the room, and then punch a metal door. For a moment, I was stunned into silence. I asked the Bee what Lily’s reaction had been, and she said, “she was really scared.” I said, “are you scared too?” And she looked at me and said, “yes.”

We had a long talk about the fact that her father would never in a million years do such a thing to me (or to anyone else for that matter), and how crazy it is that some people think it’s okay to hit someone when they are mad at them. I told her that if she was ever in a similar situation, she should call the police immediately, even if it was someone she loved who was acting crazy, because it’s not okay for people that you love to do that either. And then I told her some stuff about my dad, stuff that I didn’t think I was going to have to tell her about for years. I told her about the time that he threw our phone through the window, and the time he threw our dog against the wall, and how much it scared me and how I wish that someone had told me it was okay to ask for help from the police. And how it made me realize that I would never get into a relationship with a person who would treat me like that.

It was a really unnerving conversation to be having at the breakfast table.

I walked her to school, and thought about what else to do. I asked the Bee if Lily had told any teachers about what happened, and she said she didn’t think so. After I dropped the Bee off in her classroom, I found the principal and told him about it, and he immediately said he would call one of the district counselors to come over and talk to Lily.

As I walked home, I felt riven by bad memories from my childhood. One of my brothers often says that he can’t remember anything that happened to him before he was 17. Sometimes, I wish I had that problem.


September 30, 2005. thoughtful parenting.


  1. Eric replied:

    As a 911 operator / police dispatcher I want to encourage you to tell every little kid to call the police when these things happen. I’ve talked to way too many kids but I’ll talk to a million more if it stops the abuse.

    Incidentally, or maybe not so much, in my jurisdiction there were two crimes committed in the incident your child told you about: 1) Domestic Violence Assault, and 2) Family Violence – committing an act of domestic violence in front of a minor.

    Lily’s luck to have friends with excellent parents – both because you did the right thing and because you set an example of what a good relationship is supposed to be. Many kids never see such an example.

  2. Leggy replied:

    Wow- you handled that amazingly well. It is so hard to watch our kids experience things (even indirectly) that make them lose part of their innocence. I hope the counselors are able to get Lily (and her mom) some help.

  3. Dark-forest replied:

    OMG that’s so scary. that’s just awful.

    and you – way to go. really – you should get a reward. i just hope that sick man will be treated away from his family.

    it’s just awful, what can happen in some families.

  4. Bond Hunter replied:

    As an online counselor I applaud your actions and the steps you took to protect your own daughter as well as get help for that poor little Lily.

    If only more parents would step out and make sure other peoples kids were ok I wouldn’t need to spend hours daily counseling the victims of abuse, neglect and worse.

  5. alyson replied:

    Isn’t it good to know that when it comes down to the serious parenting moments that you’ve got the skills o handle it.

  6. Suzanne replied:

    Truly scary. And to have this discussion with a 6-year-old? I just can’t imagine. For what it’s worth, I’ll join in with the above commenters to say that I think you handled this so admirably.

  7. CheezWeezil replied:

    Right on.

    We had a similar incident with our teenage son. His friend was hiding out at our house because he was afraid that we he went home he was going to be beaten.

    My wife called the school counselor, the police, everybody she could think of.

    The police came over and talked to him, then took him home.

    His parents (Dad and wicked, evil stepmother) came over later with him. the STEPMOTHER made him apologize to us and tell us that he lied. She demanded he say that. He was crying, and it was plain as day what was going on.

    I was appalled at the dad for letting her treat his son like that.

  8. fidget replied:

    wow, frustrating situation. i think you handled it beautifully

  9. landismom replied:

    Thanks everyone for your supportive comments. I have to say, that while I have had other experiences of domestic violence (meaning other peoples’, not my own), this was the first one that involved a child, and that made it a lot harder for me.

    For example, when landisdad and I had to call the cops on our tweaker upstairs neighbor after he broke his girlfriend’s arm, I wasn’t very happy about it. Especially when she wrote us a note later to basically ask us never to call the police again. I know that you can’t make an adult get help if they’re not ready to get it–other than removing them from an immediately dangerous situation. But Lily doesn’t have that option. She’s 6. She can’t move to a shelter, or get a job and move out.

    And despite my brave advice to the Bee, I have a hard time imagining that a 6 year-old will be able to call the police if she really needs to. It’s terribly frustrating.

  10. ShutteredEye replied:

    I think you handled the situation with amazing grace and wisdom. Nicely done.

  11. Trista replied:

    What an awful situation. It must be so hard being a parent. I can’t even imagine. That said, I think that you handled the problem beautifully.

  12. Jessica replied:

    That is such a tough situation. I have personal experience with domestic violence as well and I think you did the right thing by telling the principal God, how sad for Lily. I hope things work out for her.

  13. jessica replied:

    while i cannot realte to a situation like that, the way you handled it reminded me of my patient and open mother. even now in my adulthood, i can count on her honesty and trust. i think your parenting skills are amazing and think perhaps you should start a parenting workshop 🙂

  14. Christie replied:

    you handled the situation beautifully. I too was a victim of abuse as a child- if anything I will save my children from losing their childhood as I did.

  15. Helene replied:

    You definitely did right by both Lily & Bee. It’s too bad some kids have to grow up in bad environments. Makes me really appreciate mine.

  16. Comfort Addict replied:

    You are such a good parent and person. I either forgot or never knew about your father. That had to be an especially tough coversation to have with the Bee but it sounds as though you handled it perfectly. I am just full of admiration for you.

  17. dawn replied:

    aww. . poor kid. Sounds like your talk was the right thing to do – sorry it brought back bad memories

  18. MetroDad replied:

    I think you handled it brilliantly. In fact, this should be the textbook example of how to handle a situation like that. Very few people have idyllic childhoods. But when the line crosses over into physical abuse, then quick and immediate action needs to be taken. That poor girl. I feel terribly for her.

  19. Sara J. replied:

    Oh, that’s so sad… I’m glad the Bee felt free enough to discuss it with you!

  20. Ashley replied:

    Sorry to hear about the child, glad to hear that the Bee was able to tell you and you could report it. My sister worked on the family services hotline in FL for a long time and I’ve heard way too many stories.

  21. One year of BBSP « Bumblebee Sweet Potato replied:

    […] 11. a difficult moment […]

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