So it really struck me today, the deep isolation of children around the world due to the COVID-19 virus. Experts say that predators like AFB look for children that are isolated from family, friends and schools. They look for children that are not connected to any social group in order to prey on them and use them for their own needs. I got to thinking today about my own experiences at Loveland Christian School. After my father died when I was eleven, I was taken out of public school where I had friends that I had known and hung out with for years, and put into a private school twenty miles north where I was completely alone from everything I knew. Although the school was very small, I was the only child in my class, I was the only person my age, I was the only one to start late.
I still remember the pattern my tears made on the raw wooden desk I was assigned to. I blankly stared at the lessons in front of me and wept for the life I once knew. It was up to me to motivate myself to do my work, to study, to pass the tests.
Now, I see my own children struggle with some of the same losses that I experienced long ago. My oldest daughter, Zoe, has come such a long way healing from the bullies in her schools in Florida, She has started to let friends into her heart and over time; she has become close to a very select few. Now with the world in quarantine, she constantly says that she wishes she could "Duct tape them together, so that they will never be apart."
My son Liam is another part of the same story. He struggles with the work, He looks at the screen where his assignments are and becomes overwhelmed to tears. He sees the total number of items in the list and tells himself that he will never get it done and that it's too hard. He feels alone in the fact that he is not at school with his friends to laugh and play with, and his teacher to motivate and inspire him.
As the weeks go by during this quarantine, I am proud to see them cope and talk to friends online or hang out at a social distance. Yet, I worry that it is not enough, that the virus will take so long to fade into memory that like most long distance relationships the close bond they once felt will slowly disappear into ambivalence. I worry as that happens their vulnerability to predators will go up. I cannot let that happen, I will not let that happen.
As I write this, I cannot help but worry about the countless children all over the world, isolated, alone in apartments, houses, or shelters. Their parents are lost in worry about the next meal, a job or whether a loved one might die of the pandemic. Children struggling to find meaning and purpose. Children struggling to find answers in study, Children struggling to find a place to hide from a raging or lust-filled parent or caretaker.
It overwhelms me as I think of this. I cannot bear to think that children could be abused this way, at home, where things should be safe and loving. A place to be free to be true to themselves and discover what life is about.
I am not sure what my point is by writing this. I just want all children to feel safe, to feel free to discover and play, to become who they want to be. I suppose if I cannot save them all, I can save one.
Please stay safe everyone. We will get through this together.