In one of my classes, we were given a fairly simple assignment a few weeks ago. The assignment was to write an autobiography of sorts of your middle childhood. (Ages from around 6-12) It could be a general idea of what your life was like at that time, or it could be a story from that time. I chose to write about when we moved from a big city to a small town when I was almost 10. We also had to present these “autobiographies” to the class. Today a girl stood up and shared a story that made me want to cry. The girl told the story of how as a child she was forced to live with her drug addict mother until she was a teenager and she finally ran away from her mother to live with her dad (who had been seeking custody of her all along, but the girl’s mother’s father apparently had some sort of good ole boy political clout, and had paid off several judges). She talked about how she had felt the need to “parent” her mother. I couldn’t help but to feel a tremendous amount of empathy for this girl. I can’t imagine feeling the need to “parent” your parents. This girl seems like a nice, happy, well adjusted girl. I never would have thought twice about her. It just goes to show you that you really have no idea what someone’s life is like behind closed doors. It really made me feel guilty for some of the petty things I complain about.
I really just ache with sympathy for any child forced to go through these kinds of circumstances. But I am sure that it happens more often than you would think. I grew up in a nice small middle to upper middle class town, and I know first hand how prevalent drug abuse is, and how easily it is hidden. I don’t have any children as of yet, but I promise them, I will never do this. I will never put a child through this. I just will not do it.