“Aunt Freddie and Uncle Gene
She is nice but he is mean.”
Opal sang her ditty as she continued to jump rope. Lost in her own little world, she was not aware that anyone else was around. So when her mom suddenly appeared, she lost her concentration. The jump rope tangled around her legs and she landed flat on her butt.
“OUCH!” Opal popped back up and glanced around to ensure no one else saw her fall.
“Opal! Why would you be singin’ such a song? Where did you learn such a thing?”
“I dunno. But it’s true! Aunt Freddie’s really nice to me and teaches me cool things like how to make biscuits and crocheting and she even taught me to jump rope real fancy. But Uncle Gene, he’s just mean! He picks on me and teases me about my red hair. And you make me go to there house every week when you go to your coffee group.” She slammed her hands on her hips, squinted her eyes and waited for her mothers response.
“Come sit on the bench with me. Tell me. What bothers you most about your aunt and uncle?”
Her mother’s eyes became wide with wonder. “Their names? What’s wrong with their names?”
“Freddie is a boy’s name! When I tell my friends that my ‘Aunt Freddie did this or that’, they laugh and me and say ‘don’t you mean your uncle Freddie’? I have to defend myself and her too. And Gene, that’s either a really old fashioned name or it’s supposed to be a girl’s name. Why can’t I have an Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob? Why can’t I have people with normal names?”
“You know we can’t change other people’s names. A name identifies a person and is unique to that person. I have friends named Bobby. Some are boys and some are girls. I have friends name Terry. Same thing. So it’s probably not really about their names, is it? What else is on your mind?”
“Uncle Gene said some mean things to Aunt Freddie last time I was over there. It makes me sad when he talks to her like that.”
“What kind of things did he say?” She held her breath hoping that her daughter was simply exaggerating.
“He called her names that I don’t think you want me to say. It scared me the way he got so mad.”
Opal’s mom realized that being sad was one thing but getting mad may have been an indication of something serious.
“Tell me what happened. Come in here close and let me hug you while we talk.”
“Mommy, he called her names and when he started throwing the glasses from the kitchen, I ran and hid. I didn’t want to get hit by accident. He was so mean. Mommy is that the way all aunts and uncles act? If so, I never want to be an aunt.”
“No sweetheart. Aunts and uncles should be just like mommies and daddies. They should love and protect each other. They should treat each other with respect. I’m so sorry that you had to see that. Next week, I’m going to see if you can stay with Aunt Sue and Uncle Pat … Uncle Patrick.”
Opal catapulted from the bench and started jumping rope again.
“Uncle Pat and my Aunt Sue
All the fun things we will do.”
Opal’s Mom choked back the tears. She knew her sister had not seemed ‘right’ lately. Now she new she had to get involved. Had to help her sister recognize the abuse she was living with. She would call and check on her tonight but for now, while she watched her daughter jump rope, she would call on the One that could intervene even when no one else was around. Silently, she prayed, “Precious Father, one of you daughters needs your hand of protection around her…”
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