How does one explain domestic violence to a six and a three year old?
Just up the road from our school, while buckling my kids into the car, a young boy, about 12, was involved in a horrendous and violent argument with his much older sister.
Every fibre of my body was torn, and that sick feeling of uselessness is still nestled deep in the pit of my stomach. I so wanted to help this boy, who was sobbing through obscenities. His adolescent frame was hunched on the ground, cowering over his fallen bike.
I wanted to help him, but I could not move. For moving left my own children vulnerable. I buckled them in, closed the doors and watched, making sure that my presence was felt and that it would somehow curb the fury.
The police arrived, but the boy had become extremely aggressive. He was filled with the rage of a grown man. His young face distorted, his muscles tense, hands clenched.
How does a child come to know that kind of rage?
The boy was running up and down the road, two policemen fencing him in while another came to take my details. I told him that I had not seen the argument start, but the boy had taken a 'flogging.'
The mans response stunned me.
'I doubt the boy is blameless,' he said. 'He's known to us.'
What does that mean exactly? That he has made some mistakes and deserves to be beaten? That he is somehow responsible for his actions, or reactions, even though he doesn't yet have the capacity to think as an adult?
While giving my details the boys parents arrived. His mother stepped from the beaten up car and started screaming words that have no place in any language.
And while hearing these words flying between mother and son, and father and sister, all that was left for me to hear was the resounding story that was left floating in the spaces between.
Tonight I feel so, so, sad. Somewhere in my little town is a boy who has had his life stolen. Had his choices peeled from around him, by the people who are supposed to love him and nurture him.