By K. Hecht, A. & Hosack P. Berman,
The Carsons remember how afraid Davy was of Larry. Why did I forget that? Why do I want Larry in my life so badly?
Claire didn’t understand herself. But she was trying. The Carsons found the black eye Larry gave her so unforgiveable. She had seen her dad beat her mother; she hadn’t thought of her black eye as that big a deal. She had only testified against Larry because, at the time, she had realized how much he could jeopardize Davy’s safety. But, couldn’t he have realized now that he had to change?
I forgot about Davy’s nightmares. I forgot about my black eye. What else have I forgot?
Larry seemed safe to her. Maybe it was because her dad had been so much more violent. There were a few times in the basement, when Claire had wondered if she would bleed to death, alone in the dark. The black eye had upset them so much, she had never admitted to the Carsons that Larry hitting her was something that just happened every once and a while. He had never broken any of her bones. She had never needed to go to the hospital. So, he wasn’t really that dangerous right?
At the end of the last appointment, Claire had asked Dr. Berman some questions. “Dr. Berman, honestly, do you think Larry could become a safe father- someone who would help Davy grow up to be a good man like Mr. Carson?” Dr. Berman hadn’t said yes but she hadn’t said no, “Larry has a lot of choices to make in his life Claire. He could choose to work hard to learn how to control his emotions and be angry, without harming anyone. He could choose to learn about child development and healthy parenting. It wouldn’t be easy. It would take consistent hard work. Do you think Larry would want to do that?” (2-minute silence)
Claire’s mind had gone blank. Dr. Berman asked her to just think about her own questions and what she thought the answer might be. They would all listen to what she thought at the next appointment. The Carsons have really helped Claire keep Davy safe. She liked it that Davy felt safe all the time. As she reflected on her own questions about Larry. She realized just how different a life Davy had as he grew up in the Carsons’ house. He was always warm. Everything in the house always worked- no refrigerator meltdowns where all the food rotted. When she had been struggling to raise Davy, the Carsons, rather than punishing Davy, had helped Claire learn more about child development so she could be more effective as a mother. Her Davy just expected to feel safe all the time– even when he was being punished.
Larry had learned something in prison, but she didn’t know what. She knew he had learned something because he had mentioned Davy in the letter. He had even said something good about her as a mom. But, her Davy could be a handful. He has lots of silly ideas that can get him into trouble. One morning, she had woken up to find Davy sitting on her stomach and making goofy faces….
Claire had screamed so loud both Carsons had come running. Mr. Carson grabbed Davy who was laughing at how loud she had screamed. Claire realized from the look on the Carsons faces that they were trying not to laugh. She realized she should be laughing but she felt so angry at Davy. She asked them to take him down stairs so she could practice her mommy exercises; that was the code she used to let them know she had to regain her own self-control. She was getting good at recognizing her emotions now but calming down her anger- in particular- was still hard. Without the Carsons, Claire knew she would have lost control and punished Davy when he wasn’t intending any harm.
What would Larry have done, if Davy had made goofy faces at him as he was waking up in the morning?
There are many anger management strategies Larry could learn if he wanted to and could get enough help. If you know of anyone who needs help, accepting anger as a human emotion, and learning how to avoid doing destructive things when angry this website might help: