9/18/2019 Part 93 Claire’s Story: Davy wakes up in the morning, afraid to get up

By   K. Hecht, P. Berman & A. Hosack

The bad dream came back. I shouldn’t have drawn the bad daddy. 

Davy pulled the covers over his head and ignored his alarm clock. He felt scared. He had the dream again- where his mean daddy was trying to find him in the woods. He would hide all day from the mean daddy. He wouldn’t wake his mother up and then she couldn’t make him go to school. “Davy, sleepy head, turn off that alarm and wake your mommy!” Mrs. Carson said, peeking in his room.

Oh know, Mrs. Carson was up. What …wait, I am sick. I have a stomachache….

Larry got out of bed but kept his eyes on his feet as he slowly trudged towards his mom’s room. He opened the door and sighed deeply. His mom was still in bed, if only Mrs. Carson hadn’t heard his alarm. Now he would have to lie to his mommy. Davy didn’t want to lie but his fear was strong. He sighed again and walked over and pulled the covers off his mommy. He leaned over and kissed her head. (Claire sighs a happy sigh and rolls over and opens her eyes”

“My Davy, I love you so much. Thanks for waking me with a kiss my sweetheart.” His mommy was giving her his big smile. He almost told her the truth, but his fearful thoughts kept his urge strong to not go to school. He had to hide. “Mommy, my tummy hearts. I feel hot,” Davy said, shuffling his feet. Claire was tired but these words woke her out of her sleepy fog. She said up quickly and said, “Davy, please come here so I can feel your forehead?” Davy came over, Claire touched his forehead, it felt pleasantly cool not too hot and not too cold; she was puzzled.

“Davy, I am so glad you told me you aren’t feeling good. You don’t seem to have a fever, but we can check it downstairs with that special new thermometer we got.”  (1-minute silence) Davy kept looking down; he showed no sign of excitement. Claire was even more puzzled now, last time she took his temperature, Davy had insisted on taking hers too. He so loved gadgets. He must be sick.

Claire got out of bed and started to dress quickly. “Davy, please go downstairs and tell Mrs. Carson you aren’t feeling good and need a tummy friendly breakfast. If you are still feeling bad after breakfast, I will call the school and tell them you are staying home today.” Davy walked slowly out of her room and began going down the stairs. It was easier to pretend to be sick now because he felt so ashamed after lying to his mommy and now, he would be lying to Mrs. Carson too. But, when Davy thought of saying anything that included the words, “mean daddy,” his resolve to lie deepened.

Mrs. Carson was used to a bouncing Davy rushing quickly into the kitchen and almost causing her to drop something. The quite Davy shuffling his feet worried her. He told her he wasn’t feeling good and she promptly opened the medicine cabinet to get the new thermometer; she laid it carefully away from the heat of the stove.

Claire came in as Mrs. Carson had started making oatmeal for breakfast. It didn’t bring out her smile like pancakes did but she knew oatmeal would be good for a sick Davy; full of nutrition and not hard to digest.  Claire was about to take Davy’s temperature when she saw him go sit down and just put his head on the table.

Something is wrong with my Davy. Should I take the day off from work? 

Davy had no temperature. But he had no interest in taking anyone’s temperature either. All the adults at the breakfast table kept taking looks at him as he slowly nibbled on his oatmeal. Their bowls had fruit, his was just plain old oatmeal because his tummy was supposed to hurt; the lies were making it hurt. 


After ten minutes of not really eating, Davy pushed the bowl away and said, “I’m just not hungry. Can I go back to bed please?” Claire took him upstairs and tucked him in. She kissed his forehead and said, “dream sweetly my Davy.”

I don’t deserve sweet dreams. I am a bad boy today. I am too scared to be good.

Davy had bad thoughts about himself for lying, but then went fast asleep. He was very tired from his troubled night sleep. Claire watched him for a few minutes and then went back downstairs to talk to the Carsons. They weren’t worried like she was. “It’s time for him to get some additional grownup teeth Claire,” Mrs. Carson said. “My children tended to feel feverish and just not themselves before a new tooth would pop out.” Mr. Carson agreed, “don’t worry Claire. Go to work. I can easily stay home today with Davy and play quiet games with him. If he shows any signs of getting worse, I will call you.”

What would I do without the Carsons! How could I handle Davy getting sick if I lived alone?

Not all single parents can get help with childcare costs, especially for a sick child. But if you qualify for help due to low, or very low income, The Child Care and Development Fund grant may be available to help you while you are employed or in school. For more information about the office to contact in your state, visit: https://www.benefits.gov/benefit/615

9/16/2019 Part 92 Claire’s Story: Larry and the Monks

By   A. Hosack, K. Hecht & P. Berman,

Look at them! What language are they praying in? They are so strange! Could I stand living with them?

Larry was in small chapel covertly watching the monks pray for success in getting him out of Philadelphia. When they had arrived, the priest and Larry had greeted them as they came in from the back door into the kitchen. Larry hadn’t known what to say yet he knew they were coming here to help him! As the prayers proceeded, Larry tried to understand these men who would take such a risk for someone like him. They were so deeply intent in a prayer for him. Why should they be helping him?  This priest and these monks, knew he had been in prison, knew he had been selling drugs to children, yet they were going to help him escape from gang life. By sharing the bus with Larry, the monks were putting their own lives on the line.

It seemed like only an instant and it was time for Mass; he hadn’t arrived at any answers to his questions. The plan was very basic. Larry would wait in the kitchen while the four monks and the priest led the service.  Any gang members watching the service would count the four monks with the priest up at the front of the church and note their appearance. They were clearly much older than Larry and didn’t look like him at all. Later, when they left, one of the monks would stay behind and Larry would take his place. Filing out in the dark, at the back door, anyone counting would find four monks climbing onto the small bus to leave just as four had arrived.


Alone in the kitchen, Larry began pacing around. He was trying to keep his fear under control. He dropped to his knees suddenly; he felt the need to pray. Larry had learned how to pray from Manuel in prison. But he had just been going through the motions. The words and the gestures had meant nothing to him. Now, on his knees, Larry didn’t know what to say but the picture of Martin with his children filled his mind. Martin had protected him on the bus to prison. Martin had gotten the gang protection for him in prison. While Martin had certainly reported him to the gang, Larry knew he was doing this to protect his own family.

Larry asked God to protect Martin from the gang. Let the gang leader put the blame only on Larry and not punish or…. kill Martin or his family because he had run away. Surely, Martin reporting him would be enough proof to the gang leader of his loyalty? But, the cruel face of the leader intruded on these hopeful thoughts. Larry prayed, “God, if you exist. If you will listen to scum like me, please protect Martin and his family. He does sell drugs, but he uses the money to feed his family. Please don’t let them be hurt. (1-minute pause) If someone must die for what I did God, please let it be me not Martin. (1-minute pause) Please protect the Priest and these monks who are helping me. They are so dedicated to you. They are so different from all the men I have ever known. They are special so please protect them.”

Larry was so deep in his first real prayer that he didn’t even notice that Mass was over. The priest touched his shoulder and said, “It is time, Larry, everything is ready.” Larry stood up and realized his knees actually hurt from his time kneeing.

God, are you out there? Did you hear my prayer? Will you help….

The monk closest in height to Larry took off his robes and offered them silently. Not knowing how to express gratitude, Larry put on the robes silently. Would this be the safest monk, staying behind at church, or would he and the priest come under fire from the gang? Larry had such a strong desire to say something, but no words would come out. It was time to move. The priest gently pushed Larry into line behind the other monks.  He walked slowly with them with bowed heads as they got into the bus that was parked in the alley beside the church. Larry noticed a black car parked right beside the alley.

I’ve seen that car before. Is the gang leader looking for me himself? What do I do?

Larry turned back towards the church door, facing the priest. There was such kindness in the priest’s face, a kindness that was so new to Larry. The priest patted him gently on the shoulder before turning him around and giving him a slight push towards the bus steps. As the bus doors closed, Larry heard the priest whisper gently, “trust in the lord and let him be your guide and protector.”

Larry sat in the back row of the bus staring at the black car. Sweat pouring down his face, his nervous energy made him shift his gaze back to the front. The monks didn’t seem aware of their danger. They were all showing the same calm expression they had gained after being blessed by the priest. One of them turned for a moment and saw Larry. He stood up and walked to him offering a small cotton napkin for wiping his face. This man, who had never met him before, and who was in danger because of him, had noticed his distress and offered help.

Larry tried to say thank you to the monk, but still no noise would come out of his throat. The bus started moving slowly forward to the end of the alley and the monk quickly returned to his seat. Larry turned back towards the back window- the black car had now turned into the alley and was behind the bus. Even as the bus took one turn after another- the black car continued to follow.

Two hours later, the bus suddenly took a quick swerve and came to a stop as it hit a tree. The monks had fallen this way and that. Larry had been holding on so tightly to the back seat that he alone had not fallen. Larry had experience with emergencies. He looked around and saw the need to run to the front of the bus. The driver had fallen forward against the wheel. 

Larry is not frozen during this emergency. He is also trying to help. What might this mean?

There are many different jobs where emergencies are their business; not everyone can be calm in situations where others become terrified. Could you see Larry being trained to work in the fire department? The red cross?

Some emergencies can be prepared for, others cannot. For ideas for helping yourself and those you care about in case of emergency consider reading the material at the following website:


9/13/2019 Part 91 Claire’s Story: Is Larry really going to a monastery?

By P. Berman, A. Hosack & K. Hecht 

Where should I go? I have nowhere to run to! Maybe here… 

Larry had run about a half mile before realizing he couldn’t make it to his own church, it was too far away; the gang would catch up to him before he got there. He saw a church up ahead that looked like it might be Catholic. He would have to hope its unknown priest would help him.  


He ran up the stairs to the front door, almost out of breath. He pushed the heavy door forward and slipped in. No service was going on, but Larry knew from Manuel, that there was always a priest ready to hear confessions. He saw the confessional to the left at the very end of the pews. He entered and sat down. 

It was quiet in the confessional, as if he was alone in the world. He didn’t know it yet, but Larry had run into a church that had experience helping people disappear from Philadelphia. This huge city had overwhelmed Larry when he first arrived. He had never been allowed to just freely explore the city on his own. It included a sizable population of undocumented immigrants who had slipped illegally into the USA. These people lived in constant fear of exposure and deportation back to a home that had nothing but poverty and violence waiting for them 

Within the confines of gang life, Larry hadn’t “seen” these people as they rushed past him on the streets or served him in restaurants. Illegal immigrants of the Catholic faith prayed at churches throughout the city.  To survive, many of these immigrants took employment within an illegal labor market that exploited, and sometimes killed them. Years ago, a member of the congregation had confessed to a priest that he feared for his life; this priest had a congregant build a false wall behind the confessional, just large enough for an adult male to squeeze into during the next two nights so that no one else would know of its existence. It had small imperfections in the wall that were air vents 

Larry entered the confessional, covered in sweat, not knowing what to say or do. Once the priest entered, he just blurted out, “father, I am being chased by gang members (1-minute silence), can you help me?” At that moment both he and the priest heard the huge church doors bang open, and the sound of many feet running down past the church pews. “Quick, get in here,” the priest said as he pushed a lever and the dark hole emerged. The priest than quickly closed the door and walked towards the men searching his church.  

How long do I need to stay here? I can barely breathe!  must get out!! 

Larry’s face was up against the wall. It was pitch black and silent. It only took a moment before he began to feel smother. His breathing became faster and faster as he tried to force air into his lungs. He couldn’t breathe. All his fears of his dad came flooding back, but now the fear was tied to memories of the gang leader’s face. Larry went into a full- blown panic attack and hyperventilated until he passed out. The small size of his hiding place kept him upright despite being briefly unconscious. When the priest returned ten minutes later, he saw how pale Larry looked but he asked no questions. He led back deeper into the church where there was a small kitchen area and gave Larry a glass of orange juice to drink.  

Sipping slowly, and feeling confused, Larry slowly looked around – was he safe? “Larry, four young angry men were in the church claiming you stole money from them. They know you attend Catholic Mass. (Larry began to breathe faster again) They came here because it was close by. They showed me a picture of you and asked questions trying to find out if this was your home church and if I had seen you. They will be searching all the churches in the city for you. 

Larry looked down at his feet and said, “your Church is my only hope. I have no family to turn to. (1-minute of silence) I have to get out of Philadelphia.” (Larry put his head down in his hands).  “The church can help you get out of Philadelphia this weekend. The church is sending our newest monks up to the Holy Cross-Immaculata Monastery in Ohio to reflect on their spiritual path. I can call the bishop of our parish and get the monks to come here for Friday night Mass. You would need to cut your hair and wear monk’s robes. Then after Mass, you could walk out the back door of the church and get on their bus.  Even if the gang has someone follow the bus for a while, you will be leaving the state and the trip will take eight hours. It is unlikely they will follow the bus all the way to Cincinnati.” 

They won’t give up. They will get members of the Ohio gang to find me after they find out the bus is headed for Cincinnati. I have nowhere to go…. but I just couldn’t sell drugs to that kid! 

Larry’s face was coated in sweat. Terrifying thoughts of what the gang would do to him when they caught him, flooded his mind; it wouldn’t be a quick death, he was certain of that. The priest tried to reassure Larry, “Leaving the gang was the right decision Larry. Those men from your gang threatened me with terrible things if I helped you. The church will do everything possible to help you escape from that life.”  

“Aren’t you afraid to help me father?” (1-minute silence where the priest stares calmly into Larry’s eyes) “Yes, I am afraid of those men,” the priest said. “But I have been more afraid during the moral tests God has placed in my path. You can’t escape moral tests Larry like you can escape physical ones; they follow you wherever you go.”  

“I didn’t steal money from the gang father, I left the money, and the drugs I had been selling, in the stall I had been working from (1-minute silence). I couldn’t keep selling drugs to kids,” Larry said looking sadly at the priest. “You passed an important morale test Larry,” the priest, “When you take God’s path, it isn’t easy. (1-minute silence) The gang will watch our doors for a while, and some will attend Mass to see if you are here; but it won’t take too long for them to stop; they are in business and they don’t make any money coming here. (1-minute pause) When the bus gets to Cincinnati, it can drop you any place you ask.” 

“I have nowhere to go in Cincinatti …or any place else,” Larry said distraughtly. (1-minute pause) I have no idea what to do.”  “Larry, you may stay at the monastery and spend time with the monks if you would like. They will be reflecting on their path forward, and it sounds as if you could use this reflection time too.” 

“Would they let me stay father?” Larry said doubtfully, “I have just begun learning to pray and they are…” (1-minute silence) “Yes,” the priest said with certainty, “but even though you will be a visitor not a monk, staying there will require some sacrifices on your part. You will need to follow all the rules of the monastery. Monastic life involves a small community of brothers who spend every day together. A major focus of their lives is to learn to live in harmony and with humility.  You would need to do your best to do this. It can be hard even for those who have chosen to be monks to not fight with each other over everyday tasks. We come from so many backgrounds and cultures- it takes time for us to understand each other.” 

“Father, I know how to fade into invisibility. I did it as a child to survive living with my father. I did it in prison, to survive living with a man who would rape me if I got on his nerves.” The priest searched in his heart for words that might reach Larry, “I am sorry to hear how much pain you have lived through Larry. God is not asking that of you. To live with the monks is not to be invisible. In a way, it will require the reverse from you. While you will live a simple life and pray frequently, you will be learning to reveal your innermost self. You will expose who you are, to yourself. That is how living at the monastery could help you find your true path.”  

Larry sat with his hands clasped, his head on his hands. “The monastery does not have much Larry but I know the monks will help you find a place to live in Cincinnati after you leave them and give you some small amount of money to help give you time to find work once you have decided what your best path is. 

Manuel was right. I couldn’t believe him despite believing in him. These Catholics do care about me? 

Larry felt flooded with calm. He was going to get help. Manuel had been right. Larry let’s go pray for a while in a small private chapel near the back of our building. Ask for the lord to open your heart to his message. Then, I will make the calls I need to secure your safe transportation. (1-minute silence) I know that this will be a safe place from the gang Larry. (1-minute silence) You may find that you face the same trials as the monks- you must search your heart and pray for the message that will guide your future.” 


Do you wonder what institutions of faith do to help undocumented workers in the USA? You can read about the position of the Catholic Church at: 



9/11/2019 Part 90 Claire’s Story: Davy draws the mean daddy

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 faceDavy 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 fishClaire 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. 


9/9/2019 Part 88 Claire’s Story: Davy draws a “good” daddy

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

Humm, I have used the brown and the yellow. What color would be good for ears? 

Davy was concentrating hard; his tongue sticking out as he tried to draw carefully what he was imagining in his head. He was at the kitchen table drawing his good daddy- Mr. Carson. Davy had literally dragged a laughing Mr. Carson in from the living room and told him he needed to sit very still until his picture was drawn so that Davy didn’t make any mistakes. Mr. Carson was sitting opposite Davy trying to sit still and keep a straight face as he watched a very serious looking Davy make his “face” emerge on the page. When Davy was finally satisfied, he picked his picture up and said, “How do you like you?” There, facing Mr. Carson, was a huge moon face with a mop of brown hair and circles for his glasses. His ears were sticking straight out and for some reason, Davy had made them orange. 

Mr. Carson knew how upset Davy had been about having to draw a Father’s Day picture of Larry. He was very proud to be Davy’s “good daddy” for Father’s Day. He wished he could do something to erase Davy’s memories of Larry so he would never have nightmares again. Such a young child should not have to fear anything, let alone be afraid of his own father. After pretending to study the picture carefully, Mr. Carson changed his serious look to a big smile before saying, “I love it Davy.” 

Davy, still in serious artist mode said, “What’s your favorite part Mr. Carson?” “Well, it is very hard to choose but if I have too, I would pick my ears. You made them orange and they look so cheerful.” Davy blushed bright red, “You are the greatest daddy in the world!” Mr. Carson swung Davy around the kitchen and then they both went out the door into the backyard to play, completely forgetting it was almost time for dinner. 

What a change! Look at him smile- this is so great! 

Claire had been in the kitchen, pretending to clean up, so she could watch the Father’s Day portrait emerge. She had this deep pain in her heart that Davy feared the man she still loved so deeply. Claire didn’t know if this love for Larry would ever die, however, the more she saw how deeply hurt Davy was from experiencing just one abusive incident with Larry, the deeper her commitment was to never letting Larry back in her life; her Davy was not going to be traumatized by his bad daddy every again. Seeing Davy go off so happy with Mr. Carson, Claire felt proud of how she had helped Davy work through this difficult situation. 

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Mrs. Carson came into the kitchen to see Davy’s picture. “I saw those two men of ours go off into the woods, completely forgetting it was almost time for dinner.” She took one look at the picture of her husband and burst into laughter. “Don’t you laugh at this beautiful work of art. When my son is showing his work at the Art Institute in Pittsburgh, you will be proud to own this picture, Mrs. Carson.”  His picture brings out feelings of joy in me and that’s a great experience to have when viewing art.” Claire laughed along with Mrs. Carson as they got everything ready for dinner. 

Wouldn’t it be great if every day could end with feeling like a good parent? 

When the day has not gone well, parents can need ideas from others to face the next day ready to support their child’s development.  the website healthy children.org has a great page of ideas for parents. To see them go to:https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Growing-Independence-Tips-for-Parents-of-Young-Children.aspx  


8/28/2019 Part 87 Claire’s Story: Davy is really sad

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

Why is my teacher being so mean? She can’t make me do it. Mom, please don’t make me.  

Davy was dragging his book bag on the sidewalk as he trudged home. He had enjoyed school today until the end. That terrible last few minutes when the teacher said, “Father’s Day is coming up soon. Everyone is to draw a picture of their dad at home and bring it in to class to share tomorrow.” Davy couldn’t help himself, he just bounced out of his chair and yelled, “I don’t want to.” At any other moment he would have ended up in the time-out chair for yelling and being disruptive: he was saved by the time – his teacher had to get everyone lined up for the bus home. 

Claire was waiting for Davy at the doorway. She could tell something was wrong as he walked off the bus, he didn’t jump down the last step and look at her to see if she was watching. Claire wanted to rush to him and find out what had happened. But she had promised Davy weeks ago to let him be a big boy and not embarrass him in front of the other kids still on the bus. She didn’t want to undermine his self-confidence.  She forced herself to just smile and watch, in case he looked up. Each step seemed to take so much effort as he slowly made it to the door. She reached out to hug him, but he just walked past her into the house. 

“Davy, my Davy, why aren’t you coming for a back-home hug? (1-minute pause while Davy just looked down at the floor). You are making me feel sad,” Claire said softly looking at his head, bowed down to his chest. These words broke him out of his lethargy. He didn’t want to make his mom feel sad. He looked up and said, “Mommy, don’t make me do my homework. Please don’t make me.” “My Davy, something is wrong, come sit on my lap in the kitchen and tell me all about it.” 

In the kitchen was the wonderful smell of chocolate chip cookies. His mom always let him have one with milk to hold him over for dinner. The good smell gave him hope – maybe his mom wouldn’t make him do it. Maybe things could be alright. “Mommy, my teacher said I have to draw a picture of …(1-minute pause, Claire had begun to sweat as she worried about what was going wrongThe teacher says I have to draw a picture of that mean daddy because it is Daddy’s day soon and we have to celebrate it.” Davy looked up at her with tears in his eyes, “please don’t make me mommy please!” 

Claire gave Davy a big hug and stroked his hair. “So, this is what is making my Davy sad. He doesn’t want to think about that Daddy who was mean to us. (1-minute silence) I can understand that Davy.” Claire didn’t know what to do so she just kept hugging him. After a while, she said, Do you remember how much fun we had celebrating Mommy’s Day? 

Davy struggled off her lap and said, “but that was different. You are a good mommy. I love you. I hate that mean daddy.” Claire understood how traumatized Davy still felt about that last day with Larry. Why did she still struggle not to defend Larry? Why did she still have these stupid thoughts that somehow Larry would become a good father? She had to stop daydreaming. She had to help Davy with what was really happening right now. Should she tell him it would be alright? Should she let him not do the assignment? 

Father’s Day is coming. Davy is going to hear more and more about it. He needs a way to face it. 

Finally, a good idea came to her. She could help him face Father’s Day and give him a good way to feel about having someone to be his father. “Davy, why don’t you draw Mr. Carson for Daddy’s day. We could have so much fun celebrating daddy’s day with Mr. Carson.” Davy smiled a huge happy smile but then he said, “will my teacher get mad because he isn’t really my daddy?” (1-minute-silence) 

Claire thought for a minute and then said, “Davy, a daddy is someone who helps you learn important things like how to tie your shoes and how to add numbers up. Remember how Mr. Carson helped you with all those things. And, he made you a post office. (1-minute silence) Mr. Carson does all the important daddy things.” Davy sighed happily, “he does. He does do all the daddy things and he is great at it! (I-minute pause) Even when he tells me no.” 


“You are right Davy. Sometimes Daddy’s do have to say no like when you wanted to jump down from the stone fence in the back yard, and he knew it was too dangerous.” Davy rushed to the cabinet in the kitchen that had his drawing supplies and got his crayons out. Then, he rushed through the house shouting, “Mr. Carson, come quick, I have to draw you for daddy’s day.” 
Families come in many different combinations of people. What is critical for Davy’s development, is not having a great biological father, but having at least one person who helps him learn how to have a loving and secure relationship with other people, someone who helps him learn how to control his feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Someone who helps him learn developmentally appropriate things. Davy has a right to be proud of having Mr. Carson to do the daddy things with. 

Do you know of other kids who get assignments in school that aren’t sensitive to the type of family they have? 

Is there any personal advocacy step you can think of that might help a school near you be more sensitive to these issues? 

8/23/2019 Part 86 Claire’s Story: How can I escape from this?

By      A. HosackK. Hecht & P. Berman 

Davy wasn’t dead. But that nightmare could come true. I don’t want to kill Davy or anyone else’s kid. 

Larry arrived at the booth on-time, as usual.  Martin was already sitting at the back. He said he just wanted to keep Larry company for a while, but Larry knew something was up. Martin being in his booth meant his own would be closed. It must be because of the dream. Larry had controlled himself well around the gang, saying what he figured they wanted to hear. But last night he had woken up screaming Davy’s name; he had been so loud- he had woken Martin up in the room next door. After a moment of being disorientated, Larry realized Martin was talking to him, “Why were you screaming your kid’s name. (1-minute pause) You said you were forgetting that old life- you said it wasn’t worth remembering.” (2-minute pause) 

Larry didn’t know what to say, “huh?” he said, pretending to still be groggy from sleep. “Larry, what is up with you. I asked you why you were calling out Davy’s name?” “I don’t know man, it’s weird but it doesn’t mean anything.” They had gone back to sleep but now, five minutes into the workday, Martin was at the back of his booth.  

“You seem to be doing a good business this morning,” Martin said. “Yeah, I have some dependable customers here. I don’t know where they get the money. I couldn’t have afforded this stuff when I was a kid. (2- minute silence while Larry is passing some goods to some kids) Where are they getting all this money to spend?” Larry said curiously. “It’s the neighborhood, Larry. That’s why your booth is here. These kids get allowances and they get paid for helping at home,” Martin replied. “I got paid for taking care of my brothers and sisters too,” Larry said, “That’s why I could buy myself this great store.” Martin snorted. 

Larry had been on autopilot, listening for this week’s password and handing out the tee-shirts. Then, the autopilot shut off. There, in front of him was a boy looking just like the Davy in his dream. He had the right password, but Larry was just stupidly staring at him.  The kid said the password again, this time, louder. Larry gave him a hard look and a tee-shirt, without drugs. The kid felt in the tee-shirt for the packet that wasn’t there. “Hey, I said the password,” he said, shoving the tee-shirt back at Larry.” Larry whispered in his angriest voice, you get out of here and I don’t want you ever to come back here.” Larry tossed the kid’s money in the grass. 

The kid was scared and angry. He picked up his money and ran off. Larry carefully refolded the tee-shirt and tried to act as if nothing had happened. “Larry, the kid said the right word. What is wrong with you. Why did you throw that money away,” Martin was absolutely sure now he would have to report Larry to the boss. First, Larry had screamed his kid’s name in his sleep, now he was refusing to sell drugs to someone who had the password.  

“Martin, something just felt wrong to me about that kid. I have seen him before prowling around at the beginning of the school day. He has always spent more time talking to teachers, than the other kids. I don’t trust him. I don’t care that he had the password. I am not going back to jail!” Larry’s answer made sense, but Martin still didn’t believe him. Martin hated to tell on Larry but, he had to put his own family first. If the boss said Larry had to go, that would be it. He said goodbye to Larry and walked off until he was out of sight, then he pulled out his cell phone. 


Martin didn’t know it, but Larry had snuck out behind him and was listening to the phone call from behind a tree. He was in trouble. The question was, how much. By the time Martin put the phone back in his pocket, Larry knew he was going to have to do something- quick. He rushed back to his booth, sold a few more tee-shirts and then locked the booth down. He looked quickly around and rushed off down the block, headed for church. It was too early for a service, but Larry knew the Priest would show up soon. He would into the confessional, turned on the light to indicate he was in there, and waited for help to arrive. He checked his money. He could take a bus out of town but where? He had to avoid Claire and Davy, or he would put them in danger. He was on parole so he couldn’t just disappear. Larry prayed to God that the Priest could help him. 

Larry had never directly asked God for help before. He listened to the prayers of others, but he just couldn’t get himself to ask for help from a God he wasn’t sure existed. The first time he took help was from Manuel.   Manuel had seen him struggling in the library and had offered to help. It had been hard for Larry but overtime, he had come to be able to accept this help and it had really paid off. He had learned a lot from reading books with Manuel and from attending church services with him. He didn’t know if he was capable of it, but he knew now that people could live very differently than he did- they didn’t have to make each other bruise and bleed just because they were angry. Larry wanted a life like this, and he knew it wasn’t going to happen if he didn’t get out of Philadelphia and away from the gang. 

Larry was being his own advocate. He didn’t know what to do so he was directly asking someone for help. Someone he thought might have an answer that could help him. Are you struggling with a problem? Is there someone out there, a teacher, a social worker, a politician who might know something you need to know?  

Consider being your own advocate this week and asking for help from someone who might be able to provide it. 


8/21/2019 Part 85 Claire’s Story: Davy is overdosing on Heroin.

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

Davy don’t. Davy stop please stop. NO! 

Larry is having a nightmare. He is at the end of a long, dark alley. At the very end is a 13- year-old Davy, about to shoot up what will be a fatal dose of heroin.  Larry is running down the alley towards Davy, trying to reach him before the needle enters his arm. Larry is trying to yell at the top of his voice, but it is coming out in a whisper that Davy couldn’t possible hear. 

Where is Claire? Why didn’t she keep Davy away from drugs? 

In the dream, Larry’s drug business was now outside the school where Davy was attending. Davy would come up to the booth and say the password, but Larry would refuse to give him anything but a tee-shirt. Davy had begun to swear and threaten Larry, having no idea he was fighting with his father. Davy was smart, wanting drugs and not getting them, he lied his way onto the wrong bus and made his way to another middle school and was going to try and buy drugs there. 

Martin oversaw the drug booth at this school. He recognized the password for Larry’s booth and didn’t believe the excuse Davy used for coming to a different school. He told Davy to bug off – suspecting him of being an informer for the police. Davy was tired, feeling angry and guilty. He was the only one on the middle-school football team to be a drug virgin; he couldn’t take the teasing anymore. He pushed thoughts of his mother and the Carsons to the back of his mind, he would take drugs just once, just to get the guys off his back, then he would never do it again. His family would never know; he would wait till the drug wore off to go home. 

Davy’s plan was in place, he had the money, he had the password but then first Larry, and now, Martin was standing in his way. Davy lost it, he intentionally said everything he could think of to insult Martin.  Furious but in control, Martin heard him out in silence, demanded way too much money, got it, and gave Davy the amount of Heroin he had paid for. Martin had no idea how experienced with drugs Davy was. He didn’t care, in that moment, if the kid overdosed or not. Proud, Davy walked off with what would be a lethal dose of heroin. 


In the nightmare, no matter how fast Larry ran, he never got closer to Davy until it was too late. He watched in horror as his son inserted the needle in his arm and injected the heroin into his blood stream. Larry saw Davy’s look of surprise – he dropped the syringe and sat down hard on the alley floor. Larry reached Davy and could see he was loosing consciousness. He tried to shake him awake. Heroin acts as a “depressant” on the nervous system. Davy’s breathing had slowed way down and had become very shallow. His blood pressure was very low and his eyes, while open, didn’t seem to be reacting to Larry shaking him.  

Larry knew that Davy was overdosing and that he needed to get Davy’s adrenaline pumping so that his heart would keep beating while Larry called for help. He slapped Davy hard on the face. Davy’s eyes blinked but then closed. Larry slapped him again, but Davy’s eyes didn’t open. Larry stopped trying to wake Davy up. He grabbed his phone and called 911. It seemed to take forever for someone to answer. “Please help me, my son is overdosing on heroin. Please come quickly or he’ll die.” From what seemed very far away a voice asked, “Where are you sir?”  

Larry could barely think- his heart was pounding. He looked wildly around. Nothing looked familiar- he couldn’t even hear a sound coming from anywhere that he could identify. He shook his head violently trying to think. “Where are you sir?” the voice said again. At the moment, Larry realized two things, he didn’t know where he was, and Davy had stopped breathing. Larry dropped his phone, hugged Davy’s limp body, and begged God to bring Davy back to him. 

The Centers for Disease Control does not record deaths by every specific drug. However, deaths from heroin and other related Opioid drugs has increased rapidly in recent years. There was a 26% increase in Opioid overdose from 2013-2014. It may be that the increase in deaths is due to these drugs being combined with fentanyl, a Schedule II drug. This drug is legal when prescribed by a physician and has significant benefits for those with severe pain problems; however, its use must be carefully monitored as it is highly addictive. Drug users may not realize when the illicit drugs they bought have been laced with Fentanyl (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6450a3.htm).   

There are effective programs available for preventing drug abuse by children and adolescents. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has identified 16 principles that underscore these effective programs.  One is to enhance the emotional support parents provide to their children and adolescents. Davy receives a great deal of emotional support from Claire and the Carsons, this makes it less likely he will develop the deviant attitudes that are risk factors for developing drug and alcohol problems. However, exposure to drugs is everywhere. Adolescents take make more risky choices than adults and are more susceptible to peer pressure; anyone’s child or teen could be the next victim of drug overdose. The sixteen principles of effective prevention programs can be found at: 




8/16/2019 Part 84 Claire’s Story: Larry doesn’t want to sell drugs to kids

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

Is this the best I get?  Do I care?  

beer-cars-city-576494It’s the beginning of the weekend for most people; they were rushing to door errands or to have fun. For Larry, it is just another morning where he was drinking to forget his work week. When he looked around, he was clearly not in prison anymore. In his head, he was just as jammed between walls as ever. The gang controlled where he lived, what he did, and who he did it with. The only thing he had the freedom to do, was pick his own brand of beer. Lonely, but surrounded by people who were always watching him. 

They check up on everything I do. Someone is probably watching me now. Why do I care? After all, I am constantly lying to them. 

Larry has been out for two weeks. He was careful to do everything he was told. Martin had kept close by him his first week, now he just stopped by every once and a while, asking casual questions. Larry wasn’t sure if he was trying to be a good friend and keep him out of trouble, or if he was spying on him for the gang leader. Larry never talked to anyone outside the gang; even the grocery store and bar he went to were controlled by the gang 

Everyone around him found it very funny that Larry was going to church; they know it’s a condition of his parole, but it provided a lot of scope for the men to make jokes at his expense- which he pretended to find funnyLarry was often saying prays in his head to try and keep his temper; he knew fighting among gang members was frowned on He did have dreams where he bashed heads, but these were troubled dreams not satisfying; he would remember Claire and Davy and that he wanted to be the kind of man Davy could be proud of. 

Larry missing Manuel who helped him understand why the priest did the things he did at the service. Manuel had a way of tying the words of the services to everyday things so that Larry could understand why the words were importantPraying helped Larry control his temper but he needed more. The gang put him in such a vice of control that he was constantly furious inside but trying to act low key on the outside. 

Larry’s gang job was to dress in clean, low slung jeans and a tee shirt and hang out near high schools selling drugs. He had a small stand that was set up in a small park area immediately adjacent to the high school. This made it easy for students to gain access to drugs while looking like they were buying knock-off tee-shirts at low prices. The gang had bought a permit for Larry’s stand so whenever if ever a police officer or school official asked to see it, he could prove he was “legal”.  

The gang had a very organized operation. The advertisement for drugs was word of mouth. There was a different code word each week, to try to protect the stand from undercover police who might find out a code word and try to trap him. Only regular users and small dealers in school were given the code word by a gang member who knew their face. These students would come to a different location to learn the code of the week. 

If a student came up to him and just asked for a tee shirt, that was what was sold. But, if someone said the code word of the week, he would ask what size tee shirt they wanted. Depending on the size they wanted, they either got a bag of pills with their tee shirt wrapped around it or a bag of dope. 

The job was easy, and he spent the day outside, but it bothered Larry. He didn’t like selling drugs in prison- but at least he was selling to adult men. Selling drugs to kids, he had given Martin a look, when he was first told what his assignment was, and Martin had clearly signaled to NEVER bring it up again; he reminded Larry in many subtle ways that they were both to always be really grateful to be out of prison and prove their gratitude by working hard and asking no questions 

Martin never said it directly, but Larry assumed Martin was telling him that he was always being watched. Sometimes, schoolteachers would stop by for a tee-shirt and he was always very friendly and always ignored it if they said the code word. Martin had been clear- his assignment was to sell to kids; all adults were suspect.  Larry had never trusted his own teachers, it never crossed his mind that any of them would be trying to protect the kids from drugs.  

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the use of illegal drugs increases through the preteen and teen years.  The 2018 report indicated that while 6.1% of grade students took drugs, it climbed to 9.6% of 10th graders and 12.4% of 12th graders. However, drug use has been decreasing overall and some commonly abused substances have held steady over the past three years. These have included alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, prescription opioids, MDMA, methamphetamine, amphetamines, sedatives, and ketamine have held steady over the past few years. The most abused drug of youth is alcohol (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/monitoring-future-survey-high-school-youth-trends) 

Should police more frequently and intensively monitor any open spaces and buildings within two blocks of schools? 


8/16/2019 Part 84 Claire’s Story: Loneliness and Shame

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

I still want Larry but…I feel less ashamed of it. I understand more why it’s so hard to let go. 

Claire was back in her favorite spot in the woods behind the Carsons’ house. She had filled another five pages of her notebook. She had started a habit of spending twenty “mindful” moments after she did this. Trying to let her memories float through her head, recognizing the positive and negative ones but not judging herself for why she had these feelings.  

Claire has written down more positive memories of Larry. She realized, they all involved when they had sex and Larry had been gentle afterwards. Gentle touches felt so good. Claire recognized now how much she was aware of her skin during the day. She wondered if it was because of all the times it had been torn and battered; aching all day, letting her know she was covered in it. Larry’s gentle touches had felt so healing to Claire’s tortured skin.  Davy’s gentle kisses good night also had this wonderful feeling to them.  

It makes sense that gentle touches feel good. I can get more of this “good touching.” I don’t have to tolerate violent touches to get them. 

Her phone alarm went off, mindfulness time was over. Claire felt relaxed but tired. She had done a lot of work in the woods- really exploring her life. She still wanted Larry, but she wondered if this was because before, he was the only one who gave her gentle touches that warmed her heart. She wondered if she could start being more aware of the gentle touches Davy gave her and the warm hugs, she got from the Carsons? Maybe this would help ease her longing for Larry. 


As she walked into the house, Claire thought a lot about the evening coming up and how much she was looking forward to sitting on the bench outside the house with the Carsons. Part of what she loved most was the feeling of beauty and peacefulness in the silence of the night. Her first few nights outside with the Carsons had been spooky- the darkness tended to trigger bad memories. As a child, night had been the loudest and scariest time.  

Claire still shuddered whenever she remembered the times something had told her she had to get all the kids out of the house. She had somehow taught them to be completely silently whenever she had made this one gesture where she pointed sideways- it meant head out the back door. The backyard of the house was a huge field of weeds; it provided a natural haven for all living things trying to hide. 

Sometimes her father, screaming abuse, would stagger drunkenly out into the weeds trying to find his kids, but the weeds grew thickly. Claire never hid them twice in the same spot because they left a compression in the weeds and her father might be able to scope out where they had been the next day.  She had them lying flat in a pile cringing into the dirt. She maintained vigil, peeping through the weeds so she could tell if he was getting close. There had always come a time when he fell into the weeds, got up swearing at them, and then returned to the house.  

Time would pass slowly waiting for a safe time to return to the house. The other kids would fall asleep, but Claire kept awake until she was sure her parents were dead to the worldThen, she would gently wake them up and lead them back into the house. 

Claire could remember these events now without feeling overwhelmed.  There would be a point where something in the memory triggered the old fear began to creep in; she would take deep breathes and pull herself out of it. She was safe now. It was such a wonderful, invisible thing, safety. She wanted Davy to grow up taking it for granted that he was loved and safe. 

It’s an important sign of healing that Claire has learned how to regulate her fear and not be overwhelmed by her memories of abuse. But is it a good idea to take safety for granted? Statistics still show that the US has high rates of many forms of interpersonal violence. If everyone became an active bystander- and reported warning signs of interpersonal violence, we could help our friends, neighbors, and ourselves be safe. It isn’t always easy to know if something is dangerous or not. Consider reading this article about common criminal acts that harm others: 


While most people call the police if they suspect something dangerous, if it involves acts of a parent or guardian against a minor child, child protective services should be contacted. In Pennsylvania, you can report, or anonymously report, that you suspect a child might be in danger by contacting childlinehttp://www.dhs.pa.gov/provider/childwelfareservices/childlineandabuseregistry/index.htm 

You don’t need evidence; determining if the child is in danger is not your job. If you suspect danger to a child, you just need enough information to help the professionals find the child to make a safety assessment. If you only know an address, or a license plate- that can be enough. It is the job of Child Protective Services to determine if a child is being abused or neglected and needs help, if the family is not dangerous to their children but would benefit from some help, or if the reporter was just mistaken in thinking the child was at risk.