Field Trips Save Childhoods

, , , , , , | Learning | October 13, 2018

In elementary school, there were two kids from the same household that we all thought were “weird.” Both brother and sister were rail thin to the point where their heads looked more like skulls wearing tight skin, and the sister was losing hair. I didn’t recognize it as a sign of abuse. (In addition the fact that I was a child, my disability causes me health issues that look like neglect.)

There were always bruises on them, and they had black eyes, and rope burns on their wrists. They were absent all the time. The boy would frequently lose his temper and kick and bite. The girl was timid at times, loud and socially awkward at others. Both had horrible grades and the boy couldn’t read, while the girl read at a low level.

We did isolate both as a result. People were afraid to talk to the sister, even. Some hated and bullied them. I wasn’t very popular, either — my bullies weren’t as bad but I was afraid the bullies would join forces — so I stayed as far away as possible.

In fourth grade, we had a field trip coming up. My mom volunteered to chaperone it. They had so many volunteers that they split the class into groups of two. I was absent the day the groups were decided, so I got stuck with the sister. I complained to my mother in private. She told me that I should just give the girl a chance.

Half the kids went by bus, while the ones whose parents had volunteered were driven. We met up with the sister and everyone split up. Being on our own was actually really nice. I realized she was weird the same way I was. She was so happy getting to explore the Cultural Center, saying she never got to go anywhere but school and church. We had a lot of fun together.

Looking back, I don’t think Mom enjoyed the trip as much as I did. She kept asking things that I now realize were red flag questions. When Mom drove me home, she asked me a few more questions. Mom spent a lot of time on the phone when we got home.

I didn’t see the siblings at school after that. The teacher made a comment about them “changing homes,” but wouldn’t explain. If you’ll allow me to toot my mom’s horn, I’m really proud of her. The first time she saw this kid, she knew, she verified, and she took action. It’s like that old slogan: if you see something, say something.

 

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