Part 129 1/10/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have PTSD?

I can ask Ted. He won’t think I am being self-centered. He knows I am trying to be humble. 

Larry couldn’t keep this nightmare to himself any longer. He finally got the opportunity to talk to Ted later in the morning; he told him everything he could remember. Just telling Ted about the dream made him break into a sweat. Ted saw the look on Larry’s face and the moisture emanating from his skin. He looked at Larry speculatively; might Larry have PTSD? 

Ted had been living with PTSD for years, but he still hated talking about it. This was different though; it was for Larry who clearly needed a friend. Ted forced himself to say, “I break it out into sweats almost every day. It can be a sudden noise or smell. Something triggers memories of my time overseas and I am suddenly back there.”  

Larry looked at him attentively but wasn’t nodding or anything.  “Being yelled at and called worthless were frequent when I was in boot camp and you said the voice is male, and deep, and loud.” Larry was almost hypnotically staring at Ted now. Larry hadn’t done much talking when he first came to the monastery and then, the accident happened. Ted knew next to nothing about Larry.  

Ted took a deep breath and said, “do you think you might have ever been in the military Larry?” This broke Larry’s hypnotic stare- instead he just looked confused as he said, “I wish I knew what I’d done with my life before the accident. I have no memories at all. This dream, if it is about anything real, is my first memory.”  

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Do I have PTSD? Was I in the military? None of it seems to fit but… 

Larry could have PTSD and have never been in the military. There are many other traumatic experiences that can lead to PTSD; a serious car accident is just one of them. There are many very dangerous experiences that don’t lead to intrusive daymares. What is happening to Larry is complex. Ted drove him to the library in Cincinnati where they both looked at the definition of PTSD on-line together. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. 

Most people who go through traumatic events may have temporary difficulty adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care, they usually get better. If the symptoms get worse, last for months or even years, and interfere with your day-to-day functioning, you may have PTSD.” The website had a lot more information about PTSD. To read more go to:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967  

Reading the website, Ted and Larry read about the many different types of trauma that could cause PTSD so Larry’s “feeling” that he hadn’t been in the military could be right. The accident that led to Larry’s memory loss could be considered traumatic. He had severe injuries. However, the fact that the sweating and hypersensitivity occurred after his nightmare involving a man’s deep, loud and abusive voice led Ted to ask Larry if he had any memories at all about being a victim of child abuse.  

In addition, they learned that his having disturbing nightmares was not diagnostic of PTSD on its own either. They read the list of symptoms and tried to think through if Larry had them. Ted asked Larry if he had any other intrusive memories? “What do you mean by intrusive?” Larry asked in return. “Have any of the ideas from the nightmare come back to bother you will you tried to do something else?” 

Jackpot- Ted thought. Larry had gone white during this question. (1-minute silence) “When I was trying to pray this morning,… (2- minute silence). I kept hearing a voice saying I was too stupid to deserve God’s help (Larry was looking down with sweat pouring down his face). I felt too stupid…” Ted didn’t like the green tinge to Larry’s skin. Maybe, they had talked about this enough for one day. 

Ted stood up and Larry followed him out of the library and back to the van.  Ted drove them back to the monastery. Larry was distracted, he kept hearing that harsh male voice calling him a piece of shit. Somehow, he couldn’t get himself to tell Ted. He walked away from Ted up the path to the garden; Ted didn’t follow- he felt Larry shouldn’t be pushed further to work through his thoughts about the nightmare.  

Up in the garden, Larry just stared down at “his” tomatoes; slowly, he began to feel more relaxed. 

Do you ever find yourself pushing someone to talk to you when they weren’t ready to? 

Is there anything else you might do besides “pushing”? 

Amy Morin LCSW wrote a piece called, “8 Brilliant Ways to Make an Awkward Conversation More Comfortable.” To read her ideas for what Ted might try tomorrow to help Larry talk to him more go to: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/how-to-make-an-awkward-conversation-less-awkward.html 

Do you think any of these “8 brilliant ways,” might work? 

Part 129 1/8/2020 Claire’s Story: Does Larry have a green thumb?

They seem so different from ferns. I like the feel of the fuzz on their vines. 

Larry has been trying to make the tomatoes grow for the past two weeks. They didn’t have the same deep green as the ferns. Their lives were not as delicate. Still, there was a different type of peace he was gaining from working with them. The monk in charge of the garden had not been able to get the tomatoes to grow. They would look flower but then get sickly looking and the flowers would fall off. 

Larry had looked up this problem in his gardening book. The problem might be caused by several possibilities:  too much nitrogen in the soil, getting too hot, or not getting enough water. The monk came several times a day to check the garden; it couldn’t be not getting enough water.  If anything, the garden was cool; its location at the top of the monastery, which was already on top of a steep hill kept it cool rather than hot. 

Larry had asked the monk about testing the soil for its composition. Unfortunately, there was no money available for something like this and Larry had spent the only money he had on the gardening book. Larry felt the soil, wondering about the nitrogen. Something urged him on to just do an experiment. He went to the monks’ workshop and swept up the wood chips and wood dust from their making their own furniture. He then went to the garden and spread it around only half the tomato plants- just in case it might hurt rather than help them; his book said this might reduce the level of nitrogen in the soil. 

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By the end of the first week of this treatment, Larry began to see an improvement. By the end of the second week, the plants that he had treated had exchanged flowers for beautiful tomatoes. He was so excited; he ran through the courtyard to the workshop to get more wood chips and dust for the rest of the tomato plants; he had figured it out!  

Suddenly, his smile was wiped off his face. It wasn’t because he was remembering to be humble. It was because he heard this deep male voice in his head saying, “it was just an accident. You are too stupid to figure anything out.”  

Where was this voice from? It didn’t sound like any of the monks. Whose voice was it?  

Larry had never heard anyone speak harshly like this at the monastery. It was important to be humble within the brethren. However, humble didn’t have anything to do with making mean or hurtful remarks any more than prideful ones. The monk in charge of the garden had smiled at him and given him a pat on the shoulder for figuring things out with the tomatoes. This had felt very good to Larry. But, he realized that he shouldn’t work hard in the garden just to get a pat on the back; he should work hard to help the monks- to help others.  

Larry was learning about their ways, slowly but surely. When the monks had their first tomato salad, and some nodded at him in silence, he just looked down. Larry knew their nods meant his efforts were appreciated; he didn’t need to smile or gloat about it. 

He fell asleep at peace. But it didn’t last through the night. He tossed and turned around midnight, experiencing a very disturbing dream. He was in a dark basement and he was hearing that deep male voice from before. Now it was saying, “you’re a useless piece of shit.  I am tired of seeing your ugly face. I hate the very sight of you.” He saw a belt go up in the air headed towards him and that was it. He was fully awake and covered in sweat. He was absolutely terrified, but he still didn’t recognize the voice or know what the dark basement represented.  

Larry heard a gong. He had to run to the showers to clean off the swept and still be in time for morning prayers. On his knees, Larry tried to pray but the regular prayers refused to come out of his mouth. He then tried to focus just on asking God to explain what was happening to him. Again, the words couldn’t come out. Somehow, instead he kept wondering if he was too useless to deserve God’s help. 

Why is Larry so disturbed by some insults he heard in a dream? 

Should he just try and forget them? 

To learn why you shouldn’t ignore these warning signs of emotional abuse, read: 

https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-recognize-verbal-abuse-bullying-4154087 

Part 128 1/6/2020 Claire’s story: Larry is talking to the plants

I feel safe around you. I never wonder what you are thinking. 

Is Larry going crazy? He isn’t just thinking about the plants these days, he has begun to talk to them. He finally admits his own worries- to the plants. “I know you are going to think I am crazy,” Larry said to a fern, “but your leaves seem to move toward me as I water you.” Larry was smiling at the plant and had been just about to reach out to stroke it when he saw the monk in charge of the garden come in. 

The monk saw Larry draw his hand back and smiled down to himself. He had heard Larry talking to that fern before. He had told the Abbott, who didn’t think it was anything to worry about. Larry had never been heard to talk to himself in the corridors or when he was helping in the kitchen; it was only in the garden. The monk walked up to Larry and said, “that fern is doing well now, I had almost given up on it. (Larry smiled at the fern as he blushed). I have some other plants that aren’t doing so well. I wondered if you felt ready to start working with the vegetable patch? This time of year, we don’t get much from it. I was hoping with your help, we could do better.” 

Why do you feel so excited? You don’t even like vegetables! 

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Larry’s heart was pounding. The monk liked his work!  Larry’s adrenaline was pumping so fast through his body that if he hadn’t felt so happy, he would have wondered if he was having a heart attack. The monk saw Larry smiling but said nothing. Larry was trying to take on the value of modesty and the monk didn’t want to undermine his efforts. 

Larry looked down at his feet and though he smiled, he said nothing. Larry owed the monks so much. He was trying to keep calm and controlled like they did. To try and show his gratitude, without saying things that wouldn’t feel comfortable to them, he had volunteered for extra chores, like washing up after meals; but he didn’t enjoy it, unlike working with the plants, this felt like a “duty” to him. All the monks had duties. Working with the plants, though, didn’t feel at all like a duty. He couldn’t explain it. His feelings of peace and happiness seemed to grow each time he worked with the plants. 

At his next appointment at the rehabilitation center, Larry needed to wait for a few minutes before his therapist was ready. He had bought himself a book about plants and was deeply into the section on growing food in the winter when his name was called. His therapist was standing over him speaking his name again before his attention was drawn away from the book.  

The psychologist was happy to see Larry so engrossed in something; he had seemed so depressed at their meeting last month. “Larry, things seem better for you. Tell me all about it.”  

Have things changed? Larry looked up at the ceiling. It was bland and white. Not at all like the plants that were so many different shades of green. He smiled and looked at his therapist- she smiled back. 

Where do I begin? Do I admit haven’t remembered anything new? Do I admit I don’t even care anymore? 

Psychologist patiently watched Larry as his face displayed a cascading flow of different emotions. e After a few minutes had gone by the therapist probed with, “Larry, I am wondering if something good has happened. You look more animated than before.” Larry looked at the woman and said calmly, “I haven’t remembered anything about my past. (1-minute pause) The monks all tell me to just be patient but (1-minute silence)” Larry finally blurts out, “what else could monks say?” 

They both erupted into laughter at the same time. The psychologist said, “you are so right. (pause) But, you don’t seem worried about it like before.” Larry looked down at his hands, the hands that were learning how to care for plants.  “I know I used to be so worried about whether I would remember anything. But now, I am remembering the new things I am learning. Maybe that’s why I really haven’t given my lost memories a thought.” 

“It is good news that you can remember new things. This means your brain is healing well and your ability to learn hasn’t been harmed by your injuries.” The psychologist looked calmly at Larry, “Do you want to start thinking about what your future might look like, if you stay as you are?” 

“I’m afraid the monastery will make me leave if my memory comes back”, Larry said. “I am surprised,” the psychologist said, “I thought your feared not getting your memory back.” “Yes, it was what I feared- before” he said slowly, “but now, I feel so at home at the monastery. I just never want to leave.”  

Living with the monks feels so right to Larry now. He feels safe. How does that fit with the history of church leaders abusing their members?  

Is the monastery a safe place for Larry?  

To know what else to consider in coming to your own conclusions, consider reading this article about Pope Francis’ response to sexual abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/17/world/europe/pope-francis-secrecy-sexual-abuse.html 

Part 127 12/20/2019 The Claire’s Story: Larry Goes back to the monastery   

By      P. Berman, K. Hecht & A. Hosack 

I don’t understand who I amI feel so torn up inside- except with the plants. I can feel comfortable around them!   

Larry came back to live at the monastery last week and most of the time he feels tortured by questions about himself. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he here? Two months have gone by, since his accident. While his physical rehabilitation exercises have helped him regain physical strength, none of his brain exercises have brought back a single memoryWhile some of the memories he had lost were bound to have been bad, to have no memories at all was so alarming. The closest thing to memories he has were feelings of familiarity he gained doing small everyday things. When he drank coffee, he felt as if he must have done this countless times before. Back at the monastery, the outside courtyard and his bedroom feels familiar, yet none of the people do. They all look like strangers – yet they know his name. 

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Everyone is kind to him. But they all seem to have so many questions. He has no answers. Only here amongst the plants does he feel safe. The plants don’t ask him any questions he can’t answer. They don’t look disappointed that he doesn’t want to talk. 

Ted was laying on his back in the courtyard when Larry finished with the garden and was shutting the gate. Larry heard Ted swear and looked to see his hand touching the ground all around a tool that was just beyond Ted’s reach. Larry knelt down and put the wrench into Ted’s groping hand. Ted just went on with his work, as if nothing had happened. He understood that Larry wasn’t ready to talk and just left him alone. 

Ted had picked him up at the hospital when it was time to return to the monastery. He knew Larry was struggling to remember his past, so he had filled the time back with stories of the different car projects they had worked on. Larry appreciated Ted saying he had been a great assistant, but somehow it was even more spooky, than not remembering anything, was to have this strange man knowing so much about him. 

As the days became weeks, Larry’s time began to follow a regular schedule. He got up at 6, had breakfast with the monks and participated in morning prayers. Then, he worked in the garden until lunch time. After lunch, he often had to go directly to sleep for a long nap. Ted would wake him at five so he could eat dinner and attend evening prayers before falling to sleep again.   

Everyone is so patient with me. Why is it so hard for me to be patient like them? Why does my head always hurt? 

Larry was amazed at how calm things always seemed to be. Even though he wasn’t talking much, inside his brain was rushing around in circles, trying to remember something. His head either felt completely blank or so full of images he didn’t understand that his brain ached. His only sense of peace came in the garden. His back might ache if he re-potted too many plants, but just sitting still and looking at the garden was enough to make his aches and pains disappear. 

The abbot had explained to all the monks that Larry needed a great deal of rest and as much help as they could give him remember who he was. Slowly, they had been reteaching him their names. The monk who oversaw the garden was slowly teaching him the names of all the plants and how to care for them.   Larry felt better in the garden than anywhere else. 

Is it strange that Larry is more comfortable around plants than people? 

Have you ever felt that way? 

There is some evidence that just being around green spaces, whether you work on the plants or not is good for your mental health. To learn how greenery and plants are good for people read:  

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201906/10-mental-health-benefits-gardening 

 

 

Part 126 12/18/2019 Claire’s Story: Larry Goes to rehabilitation services

By      A. Hosack, P. Berman, & K. Hecht, 

What is wrong with me! I am as dumb as a stump!! 

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Larry doesn’t understand? Why can he remember how to brush his teeth, but not what his name is. The rehabilitation specialist is giving him “exercises” for his body and brain to help him recover from his accident as much as he can. He is having nightmares of a dark basement, over and over. But he doesn’t understand why. He knows his name is Larry because they told him so when he woke up from his coma. Larry was feeling increasingly agitated until two monks came down from the monastery. They told him his history with them and helped him pray for a full recovery. 

While Larry tried to pray along with them, he didn’t remember any of the words; had he known them before? Something about their prayers did feel familiar to him. He became anxious when three hours later they said they needed to leave – he didn’t want to be alone – he needed to be with people who “knew” who he wasHe felt so much better when they told him that other monks would return to pray with him tomorrow; they would not be abandoning him.  

When Martin came onto the ward the next day, he was on time to see Larry kneeling with two monks and rocking back and forth with them as they chanted in Latin. Was this the Larry he knew? 

How do the injuries his brain received influence who Larry is right now?  

Is he the same person? 

Can brain injury change someone’s personality? 

Who we are is located within our brains.  A very patient person may become impatient after a brain injury. Even someone’s sense of humor can be influenced by brain injuries. If you are a friend or loved one of someone trying to recover, the following article can help you recognize the types of things that will or will not help someone trying to recover: https://www.brainline.org/article/9-things-not-say-someone-brain-injury 

 

Part 125 12/16/2019 Claire’s Story: Larry wakes up

By     K. Hecht, A. Hosack &   P. Berman, 

Is he ever going to wake up? Is he dreaming about something? 

Martin had been coming to the hospital every day for three weeks to watch Larry in intensive care. It’s boring yet dangerous to just be here. He must monitor if Larry wakes up. However, what’s he going to do if the police at the hospital ever find out he doesn’t have a family member in the intensive care unit? Staring at Larry through the clear glass, just out of sheer frustration, Martin knocks loudly. It was probably a coincidence but, did he just see Larry move his head? He tapped on the glass again- yes, Larry has begun to move.  

Is this good news? Probably not…. 

Trying to keep a low profile, Martin walked out of the hospital to call the gang. He got yelled at big time because he couldn’t answer a single question. He didn’t know if Larry remembered the accident, the gang, the drug money…. he didn’t know anything. Martin walked back in the hospital again and returned to the nursing station. 

the nurses were very busy. But finally, he got a break. A nurse came running down the hall and told everyone behind the desk that Larry had begun to thrash around in bed and mumble. These were good signs. Maybe he would wake up soon The nurses were all smiling but Marin swore to himself. A nurse heard him and asked in a kind voice, Is something wrong sir.” “Sorry to bother you ma‘am. I just wasn’t thinking and jammed my foot against the wall.” She smiled at him and he hurried down the hall as if he had somewhere else to go. 

Martin hid in the bathroom until the shift changed. He couldn’t risk the nurse seeing him again too soon. An hour later, Martin was tapping the glass again and this time he saw Larry’s eyes pop open and then fall shut again. A nurse entered the intensive care unit and began to check each patient. Martin watched in silence as she worked her way down to Larry. As she took Larry’s hand to check something, he jerked. The nurse began to say something to Larry and his eyes opened up again. The nurse looked very excited even though Larry was just staring at her. 

 Would he remember what caused the accident?  

Out in the parking lot, Martin called in and was told to watch Larry carefully and if he improved enough to be taken out of intensive care, to make sure he got some answers about whether Larry was a threat to the gang. Martin vacillated between being bored to death and being anxious as he watched Larry through the glass.  Larry was improving. He kept his eyes open longer and seemed to be trying to move his arms and legs before falling back to sleep. 

Friday morning, he was wheeled out of intensive care into a room with another male patient. Martin waited for his moment and then walked into the room where Larry seemed to be tossing and turning. “Hey fella, are you okay?” Martin said intentionally loudly to try to wake Larry fully up. Larry opened his eyes and looked at Martin carefully,  then he said slowly slurring his speech, “excuse me, do I know you?”  

Was Larry playing dumb?  

Later in the afternoon when Larry was asleep, a doctor came in and Martin pretended he was one of Larry’s friends from work. “How bad is he?” Martin asked. “He doesn’t recognize me.” “Don’t be too worried about that,” the doctor said, “Your friend had a very serious head injury, he may never remember the accident that he was in.  

“How much better will he get? Martin said torn between worry and guilt. “I am sorry sir, but we really can’t tell at this point. Keep talking to him and let’s see where he is in another week.” 

 spread through him. “Well, his arms and legs went through significant trauma. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some decrease in mobility that might make him need to take on a different type of job that he had before. I can see from the notes in his chart that he been driving a van and had been helping to make van repairs. This is job might require too much physical strength and agility. But don’t worry, the rehabilitation specialists at the hospital will conduct an assessment and give him some good ideas for how to proceed in the future.” 

Martin went onto the internet to learn more about traumatic brain injury. He had to figure out how dangerous Larry was to the gang. To learn more yourself consider clicking the link below: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557 

Part 124 12/13/2019 Claire’s Story: The Police come for Kevin

By    P. Berman, K. Hecht & A. Hosack 

 

They are having such a good time. I hate to interrupt. But that little boy matches the description of who I am looking for! 

Officer Fernandez had been watching Claire, Davy, and Kevin as they ate their snack underneath the tree. In some ways, they just seemed liked a carefree group. However, only Davy really seemed carefree. Something seemed to be on the woman’s mind, she looked so serious. And, one little boy was dominating the conversation while the other, who kept giving her covert looks, seemed to be trying to sink into the ground at the base of the tree. bodyworn-794110_1920

As Officer Fernandez walked closer to the tree, she noticed Kevin looked everywhere but at her. “Good morning ma’am,” Officer Fernandez said to Claire. “It looks like you and your boys are having a real feast,” she said. “Yes, it is so good,” Davy said through a mouth full of chocolate cake.  “Did you bring it all,” the officer asked. Looking serious, Claire said, no officer, I brought the sandwiches, the apples and the carrots. Kevin brought the chocolate milk and cupcakes from his mother.” “Which one of you lucky little boys has the mom who sent the cupcakes?” The officer said. “It’s him,” Davy said pointing at Kevin. “He is going to introduce us to his mommy later when she gets back from running errands.” 

I would really like to meet Kevin’s mommy right away. Ma’am, do you have a way of getting in touch with her now?” Officer Fernandez asked. Claire looked anxiously between the two boys. “No ma’am, Kevin is a new friend to my son Davy. Today will be the first day I’ll meet his mommy,” Claire said anxiously. In her heart of hearts, she didn’t think she was going to be meeting Kevin’s mother. The officer showing up had increased her fears that Kevin might not have been given the food by his family. doubts. 

Something isn’t adding up here. I don’t like the look on that kid’s face. Something is wrong. 

“Kevin, can you tell me how I might get in touch with your mommy now?” the officer said. Kevin looked scared. He grabbed Claire’s hand and said, “I don’t know where she is right now. Please don’t leave me with the police. I don’t know how to talk to police.” Claire patted Kevin’s hand and said, “of course I won’t leave you Kevin until we find your mommy. Kids need to stay with a grown-up.”  

No. No. No. What should I do. I’m scared! 

Kevin didn’t want to go looking for his mommy. Maybe they would find her. “Just take me to jail. Please don’t take me home,” Kevin said desperately. “Why would I take you to jail?” the officer asked Kevin. Covered now in sweat and should trying to shrink into the ground he said, “my mommy didn’t give me the chocolate milk and the cupcakes. I just took them from the store around the corner. Just take me to jail but please don’t take me home,” Kevin said. Davy was shocked. “I was afraid you were a bad friend but I hoped you weren’t.” “What do you mean Davy? What have I ever done to hurt you?” “You gave me stolen food to eat,” Davy said sadly. 

As Officer Fernandez walked closer to the tree, she noticed Kevin looked everywhere but at her. “Good morning ma’am,” Officer Fernandez said to Claire. “It looks like you and your boys are having a real feast,” she said. “Yes, it is so good,” Davy said through a mouth full of chocolate cake.  “Did you bring it all,” the officer asked. Looking serious, Claire said, no officer, I brought the sandwiches, the apples and the carrots. Kevin brought the chocolate milk and cupcakes from his mother.” “Which one of you lucky little boys has the mom who sent the cupcakes?” The officer said. “It’s him,” Davy said pointing at Kevin. “He is going to introduce us to his mommy later when she gets back from running errands.” 

I would really like to meet Kevin’s mommy right away. Ma’am, do you have a way of getting in touch with her now?” Officer Fernandez asked. Claire looked anxiously between the two boys. “No ma’am, Kevin is a new friend to my son Davy. Today will be the first day I’ll meet his mommy,” Claire said anxiously. In her heart of hearts, she didn’t think she was going to be meeting Kevin’s mother. The officer showing up had increased her fears that Kevin might not have been given the food by his family. doubts. 

Something isn’t adding up here. I don’t like the look on that kid’s face. Something is wrong. 

“Kevin, can you tell me how I might get in touch with your mommy now?” the officer said. Kevin looked scared. He grabbed Claire’s hand and said, “I don’t know where she is right now. Please don’t leave me with the police. I don’t know how to talk to police.” Claire patted Kevin’s hand and said, “of course I won’t leave you Kevin until we find your mommy. Kids need to stay with a grown-up.”  

No. No. No. What should I do. I’m scared! 

Kevin didn’t want to go looking for his mommy. Maybe they would find her. “Just take me to jail. Please don’t take me home,” Kevin said desperately. “Why would I take you to jail?” the officer asked Kevin. Covered now in sweat and should trying to shrink into the ground he said, “my mommy didn’t give me the chocolate milk and the cupcakes. I just took them from the store around the corner. Just take me to jail but please don’t take me home,” Kevin said. Davy was shocked. “I was afraid you were a bad friend but I hoped you weren’t.” “What do you mean Davy? What have I ever done to hurt you?” “You gave me stolen food to eat,” Davy said sadly. 

have to run I can’t go home. 

Kevin didn’t trust police officer. He had tried trusting Claire, but grownups could not be trusted; Davy was stupid to trust his mom. Kevin jumped up and sprinted across the park and into the trees. The officer took off after him, but Claire called out, “when you catch him, please bring him back here first. He shouldn’t go alone to the police station. He should have a mommy with him even if it’s not the right mommy.”  

Would the police officer listen? 

Claire was worried. Kevin might not have done anything wrong. Or, he might have stolen that food. Whatever was closer to the truth, he still needed an adult looking out for him. Would Officer Fernandez bring him back? Davy broke into Claire’s thoughts with, “Kevin was fast. Do you think the police officer will find him?” Claire hugged Davy close and said, “don’t worry Davy. I know this is scary. But Kevin needs help. If the police officer doesn’t bring him back here, we will go to the nearest station and ask if Kevin has been brought there.”  

Davy looked up at his mom and said, we care about him because he’s a friend, even though he might be a bad friend right mommy?”  “We care Davy because he’s a child, and grown-ups need to look after children.” Davy smiled up at his mommy, “you are a good mommy, you will look out for Kevin even if he stole those yummy cupcakes.” Claire began to pack up their belongings so they would be ready if Officer Fernandez came back, “yes, Davy, we will look out for Kevin.” 

Should Claire leave Kevin to Officer Fernandez? Does it matter if he stole that food or not? 

When crimes are committed, do you believe we deter future crimes by using a punishment model? If so, Kevin needs to be punished for stealing, even if he stole because he was hungry. Would we deter more crime if we taught Kevin to be honest and respect the property of others, even when he is hungry? 

Under which model do you think Kevin would be more likely to fear a police officer? 

“The National Association of Community and Restorative Justice (NACRJ) is a non-profit, membership driven organization that provides a support system for educators, practitioners and others interested in restorative and community justice.  The primary means to fulfill this purpose are educational and carried out through the biannual National Conference on Community and Restorative Justice, networking tools, resources available on its accessible website and a bi-monthly publication the “Restorative Well”.  The NACRJ uses principles of social and restorative justice to assist educators, practitioners and others to seek transformation in the ways harm and justice questions within the United States are addressed through prevention, repair and healing.  The Association promotes effective responses to conflict, incivility, crime and injustice that are equitable, sustainable, socially constructive and prevention oriented.  

To learn more about different models for ending juvenile crime and how well they work consider going to the NACRJ website: 

https://www.nacrj.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=260:national-assessment-of-restorative-justice-legislation-and-policy&catid=64&Itemid=1010 

 

Part 123 12/11/2019 Claire’s Story: Claire is losing sleep

By   A. Hosack & P. Berman, K. Hecht 

Claire hadn’t slept well all week. She was worried about Kevin, but she hadn’t called ChildLine. How could she? She had no idea where he lived or what his last name was. This Saturday, if Kevin showed up at the park, she had to find a way to get this information from him.  the night before she took Davy to the park next week. She packed the snack with particular care. She would watch what he ate. Davy always ate all the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but, if he wasn’t hungry, he would skip the fruit. Today, she also added carrot sticks. Surely, if he wolfed down fruit and vegetables, she was justified in fearing he wasn’t getting enough to eat.  

When they got to the park. Kevin was already sitting under the tree. He jumped up when he saw them  boy-running-during-sunset-1416736

coming and ran to Davy. “I hoped you would come! My mommy packed a snack for me to share with you today!” Both boys ran towards the tree and sat down. There were three cartons of chocolate milk and three snack cakes sitting on napkins. “Your mommy sent great snacks,” Davy said in excitement, “please thank her for us! “I want to thank her too,” Claire said“I’d really like to thank her for sending her nice boy to play with my Davy.  I also want to shake her hand and give her some of our snack today, so we aren’t strangers to each other anymore.” The smile that had begun, when Claire had called him a “nice boy” was wiped off Kevin’s face, when Claire said she wanted to actually meet his mommy. He looked down and saidshe had to go run errands, but maybe when she comes back,” Kevin said. 

Do you think that Kevin’s mommy is really running errands? 

If she is, would you be worried that she sent snacks but isn’t worried about meeting Claire? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, if Kevin’s mommy is leaving him alone at the park, this would be neglect, and specifically it would be considered, “inappropriate supervision.” Kevin’s mommy would be trusting Kevin to monitor his own safety at the park. The fact that Kevin was so quick to take food from a stranger, demonstrates how impossible it is for children to be able to make this type of decision for themselves. 

To read descriptions that would help you identify different forms of abuse and neglect, go to: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kcKX2In0B0 

Part 122 12/9/2019 Claire’s Story: Kevin seems too hungry

By   A. Hosack & P. Berman, K. Hecht 

 

I don’t know if I want to play with him again or not. I have fun with him. But maybe he steals…. 

Claire’s taking Davy to the park. He had been looking forward to going all week. At breakfast, he had danced around the kitchen with his cereal bowl as he reminded his mommy they were going. But now the excitement he had felt earlier felt bad- more like worry. He enjoyed his time so much more at the park when he played with somebody else. But what if the somebody else was Kevin. Should he play with him? 

He didn’t want to bring it up because if his mommy told him he couldn’t play with Kevin, then that was that. But maybe if he just started playing with him, she wouldn’t say anything. What should he do? His stomach was feeling so upset, he had to speak up and get help.“Mommy, if I see Kevin at the park I don’t know if I should play with him or not because maybe he steals?” Davy said looking sad.  Claire looked back at Davy carefully and said, “It is important to know that all of your friends are good friends Davy. It isn’t always easy to tell at first if someone is going to be a good friend or not. You just met Kevin. You really don’t know much about him – including how he gets his candy bars and his chocolate milk. Take things slowly and remember tact like a good friend yourself.” 

My stomach feels better! Why is it always so hard to ask mommy for help? 

Davy didn’t understand himself sometimes. His mommy always had good advice. Sometimes she was quick to yell but most of the time, she always took her time and was fair to him. Why did he have trouble asking her about Kevin? He shrugged and let it go. What was important was that he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Kevin and his mom had said it was okay to take time to figure out if Kevin was a good or bad friend. 

Davy held his mommy’s hand as they walked across the parking lot and into the park. He led her to her favorite tree where she sat down and took out her book. Davy was supposed to stay within her site the whole time he played. The tree was in a great location- right in the middle of all the play equipment. As he went over to get on the swing, Davy noticed that Kevin was walking towards him. He felt a mixture of anxiety and excitement. He had a friend to play with but, he might have something hard to figure out. 

I am hungry. I wonder if Mommy brought any of my favorite snacks? 

Kevin and Davy had been pushing each other on the swing and laughing a lot. It was such a warm sunny day and it felt like they owned the park because no other kids were there. Davy noticed his stomach had started to growl and he said, “Kevin, let’s go over to my mommy and eat some snacks!” Kevin blushed and looked down at his feet. “Davy, I have to go get my snack, I didn’t bring it close by,” Kevin said hesitantly. Davy got a worried thought, what if Kevin was going to go off and steal something. “If you didn’t bring a snack Kevin, don’t worry. My mommy knows I like to share with my friends; she likes to see that I can share, even when its chocolate.”  

Kevin still seemed to be hesitating, so Davy took his hand and pulled him slowly towards his mommy. “Mommy, mommy,” Davy began to yell the top of his voice as he walked with Kevin over to the tree. Claire looked up and saw two little grimy boys covered in sweat. One had a big smile on his face and was her Davy. One looked very anxious and she trembled a little. Claire recognized the look in Kevin’s eye. Claire saw the look she used to have on her face. It was the look of a child who didn’t trust adults.  

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Despite the strong pull from Davy’s arm, Kevin was hanging back from Claire. Davy was ignoring his counter pressure to stop. With a final rank that almost made Kevin fall, Davy said, “This is my friend Kevin mommy.”  Davy plopped down and pulled Kevin with him. “Can we have snacks mommy we are so hungry.” 

I’m a stranger. Kevin shouldn’t really take any food from me. What should I do? 

Claire didn’t know what to do. She would never want Davy to take food from a stranger. She knew she was a safe person, but she didn’t want to encourage someone else’s child to do something that could be dangerous. She opened her bag and kept herself busy moving things around while she tried to think. When she finally looked up, she tried to catch Kevin’s eyes and said, began taking out the snack she brought to give herself more time to think. When she looked up she said, “boys I have plenty of snacks for two. But maybe Kevin should ask his mommy’s permission to take a snack from me?” 

At the words that he should ask his mother, Kevin began to back away. “Where are you going Kevin?” Davy asked anxiously. “I’ll be back in a moment,” Kevin said, “my mom doesn’t like to sit close to where I play because she says I’m very noisy. I’ll go ask about the snack and be right back.” 

Claire knew she should meet Kevin’s mother face-to-face, but he was gone in an instant. He ran out of sight and then came right back. Claire knew in her heart that he hadn’t been gone long enough to have talked to his mother, but he had this haunted look on his face. He also looked anxiously at the food she had put out on the grass. He looked hungry. 

“What did your mommy say,” Davy asked. “She says it’s fine because we’re not going to have lunch today so I can have as much snack as I want if iis okay with your mommy.” Davy looked at Kevin, puzzled, and said, how can you not be having lunch today? My stomach wants lunch every day.” “Oh, we’re just going to be very busy today with errands. I’ll have lunch tomorrow,” Kevin said. In her heart, Claire knew that Kevin was making the whole thing up. She didn’t know why he was so hungry, but she was going to feed him.  She gave him a plate full of small little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and an apple.” Davy compared his plate to Kevin’s. “How come you gave him more sandwiches than me?” Davy said jealously. “We don’t have a lot of errands Davy,” Claire said, “we will be having lunch and you know how Mrs. Carson would feel if you didn’t have any appetite for her lunch.” 

“You are so right mommy,” Davy said as he ate his apple first. Kevin seemed to inhale his food. It was gone so quickly it was almost as if he was afraid the food would be taken away from him. Claire was guessing, but as she looked at how thin he looked, his overly large clothes, and the way he had been behaving and began to fear he was a neglected child. If his mom was at the park, he was too little to be out of her sight. And, the “if” she was at the park was a big question.  

Are there warning signs that Kevin could be abused or neglected? He might just be making up the “no lunch today” comment. His mom might have told him not to take food from strangers, but he wasn’t listening. His clothes might be hand me downs from his big brother…. 

Could Claire know for sure? 

Does she have to know for sure to do something about it? 

No, as a resident of Pennsylvania, Claire doesn’t have to have more information about what is happening to Kevin at home than what she already knows. It is up to Claire, as a concerned adult, to just report these concerns. It will then be the job of professionals to find out if Kevin is okay or not and what if any services, they should provide to him and his family. Every state has their own specific rules for how to report concerns about abuse. To read about how this is done in PA, go to: 

http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/resources/childline/index.htm 

The following is a quote taken directly from this website: 

“How ChildLine Protects Children 

ChildLine is part of a mandated statewide child protective services program designed to accept child abuse referrals and general child well-being concerns, and transmit the information quickly to the appropriate investigating agency.  ChildLine is responsible for receiving verbal and electronic referrals 24 hours a day, seven days a week.   

The toll-free hotline, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of suspected child abuse.” 

 

11/29/2019 Part 121 – Claire’s Story: Craig finds out where Claire lives.

By    K. Hecht, A. Hosack & P. Berman

Everything’s going the way I’d hoped. I’ll wait till next week and then ask her out.

Craig was thinking about Claire every day. He imagined he saw the back of her hair swinging whenever he was in a crowd. He couldn’t stop himself from rushing up to see if the woman was Claire despite knowing how unlikely that was. Sometimes he would remember the look on her face when he had gotten angry with her. She had pulled away so quickly! She must have come from a very protected environment to pull away like that just because he had become angry.

Thinking of Claire as fragile just deepened Craig’s interest in her. Today, he had gotten off work an hour early. He traveled on the bus and got off at what he knew to be Claire’s home stop. He looked around and found a place where he thought he could observe the bus but not be seen himself. He read a newspaper as he patiently waited for Claire to get off the bus.

It seemed like no time before he was watching her as she slowly walked down the steps of the bus. She looked discouraged. He hoped it was because she had missed seeing him. As soon as she was about a block away, he came out of his hiding place and slowly followed her. In a few moments, he had to stop and hold his breath. Claire was walking down a path to the front of a house. He watched her as she unlocked the door and went inside.

Craig turned around and went back to the bus stop very pleased with himself. He knew where she lived! He knew where she lived and now could find her anytime!

Claire had been very disappointed that she hadn’t seen Craig on the bus. He probably had no real interest in her after all. He probably had just talked to her to pass the time before he got off the bus himself. What should she expect? Why would such a handsome man be interested in her? Before she could get herself into too deep a funk, her little ball of dynamite hurled himself at her legs and gave her such a tight hug that she almost fell over.

“Welcome home my mommy,” Davy said with a smile. “I love you so much my Davy,” Claire said as she leaned over and kissed him on the top of the head. “Come in the kitchen mommy, I was given a star today in school.” Davy gave her his kindergarten grade report and there on the top was a gold star. The teacher wrote underneath it, that Davy had earned a star for being voted the boy in class most likely to share with others. Claire grabbed Davy and swung him around and around till he was laughing and gasping for air. “I am so proud of you Davy, you are being a good friend to everybody in your class by sharing so well,” Claire said. “Yes, and I’m not going to try to teach them to steal either mommy,” Davy said. Mrs. Carson chocked as she tried not to laugh.

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Davy gave Mrs. Carson a confused look but then, Claire was giving him a big hug and all he wanted to do was clutch her and smile.  “You are a good friend Davy, you are showing other kids how to share not how to steal,” Claire said.

Have you struggled trying to explain to a young child the difference between telling the truth and telling a lie? Consider buying a book that helps you read to your child while the story opens up the subject. To see an example consider watching the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8lWQ0cCJmg