Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
TITLE: Portrait of a Child's Pain
By Lynn Radford
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“Shhh. Mommy’s talking on the phone.”
“Shhh. Daddy’s reading his e-mail.”
“Shhh. You have to be quiet in class.”
I tried to tell Mom that my little brother was eating crayons, but she was on the phone. I tried to tell my dad that our dog chased after a rabbit, but he was on the computer. I tried to tell my teacher I had to go pee, but….
When Mom found out about Jimmy and the crayons, she was real mad. She said, “Why didn’t you tell me, Michael?” I could tell that she was disappointed in me. I kept quiet while she cleaned up the mess.
Dad yelled when he found out our dog, Grady, had run off. He never knew that I’d been trying to tell him when he told me, “Shhh.” I quietly did my homework while he called and called for Grady.
When I couldn’t hold it any longer, I felt the warm pee dribbling down my leg. I said nothing, but the other kids yelled out, “Michael peed his pants!” I got sent to the nurse who asked me what happened. “You have to be quiet in class,” I repeated.
A week later, I met with Miss Jane. I had to talk with her twice a week for the rest of the school year. She said it was okay if I didn’t want to talk, I could draw pictures instead.
I drew a picture of my brother eating crayons while Mom was on the phone. I drew a picture of Dad at the computer while Grady chased the rabbit outside the window. I drew a picture of me at my desk with a yellow puddle underneath and kids pointing at me. I drew other pictures, too. Miss Jane always asked if I wanted to talk about my pictures. I never did. I’d once heard a grown-up say, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” I guessed not.
Grandma Sophie was a good listener, until she couldn’t hear very well anymore. I talked to her a lot. She taught me about Jesus and how much He loved me. She said that even when it seemed that no one else was on my side, Jesus always was. She said Jesus would always listen to me, no matter what! She said that was because He loves all of His children, all of the time.
As things got worse for me, I spoke only when spoken to, or in my room with the door closed. I overheard my parents whispering one evening after supper. They thought I was too old for imaginary friends. I didn’t try to explain that my imaginary friend was Jesus; I began whispering instead.
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