By A. Hosack, K. Hecht, & P. Berman,
It is so nice to stretch in bed and not have to get up right away!
Saturday mornings were more relaxed at home. Davy didn’t set off his alarm. Of course, he still got up early, but he knew that his mommy liked to stay in bed longer. He waited patiently, for at least fifteen minutes, before sneaking into her room, and climbing into bed next to her. Claire pretended to be asleep. She rolled over so that her head lay on his stomach. Then, she reached her right hand around and lay it across his face; “oh, what a soft pillow this is,” she sighed as she snuggled her head into his stomach, making him giggle.
This is so fun. Mommy’s hair feels so tickly on my face.
Claire rolled back over again and then quickly, before he could react, sat up and began tickling his tummy. He was laughing so loud that the Carsons walked in to see the fun. “Who is making all this noise!” Mr. Carson said, pretending to be mad. “It’s no one Mr. Carson, I just have this great pillow I am plumbing so that I can go back to sleep,” Claire said. “That’s no fair, why should you get all the fun with the pillow,” Mr. Carson said reaching down, grabbing Davy and putting him upside down over his right shoulder.
Davy tried to get up, but he was laughing too loud to get his tummy muscles working right. “Okay, you two big pillows,” Mrs. Carson said, “let’s go down and start the pancakes while Claire gets dressed. It was fast work, Claire loved pancakes. She rushed downstairs in jeans and a t-shirt- today was a big house cleaning day! She stopped suddenly when she entered the kitchen.
Where did all the laughter go? Why is everyone so serious? Is Davy hurt?
No one was physically hurt. Davy was sitting at the table looking back and forth between Mr. and Mrs. Carson with concern. “Mommy, I asked Mrs. Carson if there was time to draw a picture of my mean daddy before pancakes and now no one is talking?” Davy said with a serious face, “am I in trouble? I didn’t spill anything, I promise, I didn’t.”
“Nothing is wrong my Davy,” Claire said, trying to control her breathing. “The Carsons are just shocked that a pillow can draw pictures.” “Pillows cannot draw pictures,” Mrs. Carson said, recovering her composure. “Yes, they can, they can, just watch me,” Davy said, waiting for his mommy to give him his drawing paper and crayons. Claire put a big piece of white paper down in front of Davy and handed him his crayons- proud of herself that her hand wasn’t shaking.
I need Dr. Berman’s advice. I know I should listen to Davy and let him draw a picture now if he wants to, but…. what if I say the wrong thing?
Davy spilled out all his crayons on the table and looked at them carefully, for what seemed like an endless amount of time to Claire. She wanted so much to go back to bed, back to the tickling, she knew how to do that now. But, Larry, she was still struggling so hard with her own feelings about him. She wanted more time for herself to recover from the stress of the Father’s Day drawing. She didn’t feel ready to help Davy with this now!
Why did being a mother have to be so hard?
Everyone seemed to have forgotten about the pancakes. All grownup eyes were pinned to the blank sheet of paper on the table. Intently, Davy began to draw a big black square in the middle of it. Then, he made everything outside the square as black as he could. He had to stop every once and a while and shake his right hand out- drawing such a dark black background hurt his fingers. Finally, he put the black crayon down and looked down at what he had done; he sighed deeply and looked up. “Why don’t I smell pancakes?” he complained, “this is hard work, my tummy is really going to need a monster amount of pancakes!”
“Yes, Davy, sorry I just like to watch you draw,” Mrs. Carson said as she began pulling ingredients out for the pancakes and Mr. Carson began to set the table in the dining room. They left Claire with Davy at the kitchen table. He was now drawing his version of a man’s outline in brown. After a few minutes, he stopped and closed his eyes. (1-minute of silence)
Claire was inwardly shaking but she kept quiet. Davy began to look afraid too; he opened his eyes and shook his head back and forth saying, “no, no, no, I won’t let you hurt me you mean daddy”. He selected the red crayon and made the eyes solid large circles within the small brown circle that was Larry’s face. Davy gave Larry two long arms and added small circles at the end of each. He put five long lines coming off each circle- “these are his claws mommy. That’s how he catches me in the nightmares, with his claws.”
Suddenly, Davy threw the crayon away towards Claire. “Mommy, I need a break,” he said before rushing out of the kitchen and up the stairs. These were Davy’s special words designed to let his mommy know he needed to do his mindfulness exercises with their fish. Claire followed Davy slowly, to give him time to be alone if he wanted it. When she went in her room, he was kneeling on the floor staring at the fishbowl.
Claire kneeled quietly next to Davy so he could feel her protective presence. After a few minutes, he stood up and took her hand, “I am ready to finish the mean daddy now mommy.” He walked down the steps with resolute steps and sat back in his kitchen chair with a determined plop. He gave the circle face a mean look by making the mouth and nose straight red lines. Unlike Mr. Carson’s face, Davy didn’t give the mean daddy any ears. When Davy finally put down the crayon with a sigh, he asked, “Mommy, can you really keep me safe from that mean daddy?”
Can I? I have to... I have to... I will!!
“Yes, my Davy, I will,” Claire said in her strong mommy voice. (30 second pause) “Shall we put this picture up on the refrigerator and throw wet sponges at it? To show we aren’t scared of the mean daddy, or do you want to rip it into tiny pieces to show the mean daddy we are stronger than him now?”
Wet sponges are fun but, ripping is what my hands want to do
“Let’s rip it to shreds mommy,” Davy shouted. Claire grabbed the garbage can and said, “Okay Davy, I will hold one part of the picture and you start ripping. If you get tired, you can hold the picture and then I will rip.” Mr. Carson walked into the room in time for before the ripping started. “That is the meanest daddy I have ever seen. Would you like to use my new paper shredding machine and really show him how strong you are Davy?”
Yes, yes, let’s shred the mean daddy!
Davy was excited. He was fascinated by the paper shredder. Mr. Carson had let him watch as he shredded old bills, but he had never let him touch the shredder himself. But now, Mr. Carson was putting it down in the kitchen in front of him. He showed Davy how to insert the beginning of the picture and then let go. Davy smiled up at his mommy before turning back to the shredder and pushing on the red start button.
In seconds, the mean daddy was nothing but scraps in the waste can, mixed up with all sorts of other paper scraps, Davy felt satisfied. At least for today, he wasn’t scared thinking about the mean daddy.
Will Davy and Claire ever completely stop fearing Larry?
Maybe yes, maybe no. But, they are learning how to keep their fear from spoiling their wonderful life together with the Carsons. Unlike things like fear of the dark or fear of spiders, which are considered “irrational fears” by treatment specialists, being afraid of Larry is a “realistic fear.”
Would you be afraid of Larry if you saw him walking down the street? What if he came knocking on your door?
If Larry comes back and knocks at the Carsons’ door, the first step could be to just not let him in. But, Claire could file for a “protection from abuse” order.
If you are interested in learning about how protection of abuse orders work in Pennsylvania, you can read about the process at the link below:
To learn about these orders in a state besides Pennsylvania, just type in your computer search engine, “protection from abuse orders in…” and just add the state name.