Military Camo – Disguising Child Neglect?
This week I visited my son and his family – they just had a new baby boy whom we wanted to meet. My son is in the military, and lives in off-base military housing. I’d seen a picture of their house, which was beautiful. They live across from the pool, down the street from a playground, and within walking distance to the elementary school. Perfect, right?
We drove into their subdivision, and it was beautiful – large two-story townhomes, spacious and well maintained. The streets and yards were clean; it was a gorgeous neighborhood. I still didn’t understand why it wasn’t the neighborhood my son and his wife wanted their kids growing up in.
And then we heard the stories.
Every house in their neighborhood has kids (a “families only” subdivision). And at least three out of four of those families let their kids run wild. My daughter has been their surrogate mother on many occasions.
Are the fathers deployed and overseas? I don’t know. But what I do know is that many of the mothers in that community don’t work – they’re stay-at-home moms. But what are they doing? They’re not taking care of their kids, but leaving that task to parents who just can’t stand to see child neglect.
It seems as if the neighborhood is inhabited by only children. Rarely are there ever any parents in sight.
At least twice, kids were “dumped at the door” after being picked up from school; their rides driving away before they even found out no one was home. Once, after being told that their kids COULD NOT spend the night, the kids were dropped off at one parent’s house anyway, with the parents driving away and being MIA until the next day.
My daughter has had kids surrounding her kitchen table after school – all of them needing help with homework that they say they don’t get at home. All of them wanting food – they’re hungry.
My daughter has walked other people’s kids to school with her own. She’s been called before school by the kids, saying they can’t wake their mothers up to help them get ready for school. Could she please wait while they get ready and run to catch up?
Once there was a little five year old who was walking by himself to school, crying. My daughter asked him what was wrong, and he said he was hungry. His mother didn’t feed him, and he had no money to buy school food, and had used his freebie the day before.
The playground is a notorious place to visit. The older kids are cursing bullies who take your toys, or who try to hurt and intimidate the smaller kids. Again, no parents .
And what about the angry elementary school child on the playground, getting a butcher knife and an ax from home, then chasing the other kids, and threatening to cut them? The police were called but they couldn’t locate his mother. MIA. Again.
My son and daughter have been warned that they haven’t even experienced the real test with the parentless kids in the neighborhood. Summer. The pool won’t let anyone under sixteen in without a parent. So the children swarm the area, begging any adult they see heading for the pool if they can go in with them. Like the hungry child beggars in Mexico swarming tourists. But these kids are begging for attention, not money.
Where are their mothers?
My smaller kids were playing with some neighborhood children during our visit, and were appalled to find out they’d never jumped rope, or thrown a Frisbee. Normal kid-things to do, but no one had taught them.
So the great revelation during my visit to the beautiful military housing neighborhood where my son and daughter live: Once again, looks can always be deceiving. Military camouflage can cover military child neglect (just like it’s disguised in the non-military world.)
Maybe the military should create another special ops team – Child Protective Forces. Sounds like they need it.
(PS – this is not the Slipknot mask)
My eight-year-old son is like many other young boys: he wants to do things that only older kids get to do. What he wants to do right now is emulate his big brother, who joined the navy eight months ago. Well, his big brother was a Slipknot fan (the heavy metal band who wear the weird masks). Although he’s not allowed to listen to their music (way too graphic for an eight-year-old), he still likes to look at pictures of their masks.
During his most recent internet Slipknot mask search, he came across step-by step directions to make one of the masks, and wouldn’t you know it – it was his favorite! He very sweetly asked me if we had the supplies necessary to make it, and if so, could he make it himself. Because he’d been truly disappointed when I told him he couldn’t listen to Slipknot music, I decided that, even though plaster of paris is a God-awful mess to deal with, he could experiment with making the mask as long as he’d clean it up.
The directions instructed him to put a stocking over his head, and have someone cover his entire head (except for eyes, nose, and mouth) with the plaster of paris, and then remove the whole thing. He recruited his sister for the sculptor’s job (brave boy).
Yes, I know what you’re thinking – I should have been smart enough to know that there were some flaws in these directions.
Well, not only did the plaster dry before the mask was even fully formed, but there were no directions about how to get the stupid thing off your head without cracking it to pieces. The boy looked like a burglar who’d broken into a plaster factory and lost his balance. But that wasn’t even the worst part…
Yes, unfortunately you guessed it – the plaster had penetrated the stocking and had adhered itself to my boy’s face, ears, and headful of hair.
Well, there wasn’t really a solution, other than just peeling the damn thing off my boy’s head. And yes, you guess correctly – it was very painful for him. I think it probably took off most of his facial hair – I’m just glad it didn’t rip out his eyebrows or the hair on his head. He wailed and cried as I pulled and peeled and tugged. Finally, I was able to get most of it off – except for the plaster which had stubbornly adhered itself to his sideburns. That stuff WOULD NOT come off. I told him to take a shower and maybe it would dissolve, or he could scrape it off.
No such luck!
His dad had to shave his sideburns off with a hair trimmer.
What We Learned
Well, as I sat at the dinner table, and looked at my little boy, with his little red face, I asked him if he scrolled through all of the directions? Did it have a joke at the end that read,
Ha Ha moron – you can’t get the thing off your face, can you??
He couldn’t help but smile at that one. I told him that a lot of women pay a lot of money for a chemical peel, and he got one for free! (he didn’t really get that joke).
We learned that not everything you find on the internet is true, or sound, or successful. (DUUUHHHH!!!!) We are expected to use our common sense before relying on what we find.
I think my creative little boy will be satisfied with just looking at the masks for a while.
The epitome of a happy boy:
Back when I was a kid, and even when my oldest kids were kids, going to spend the night with someone meant you were supposed to pack your overnight bag with pajamas, your toothbrush, clothes for tomorrow. And yes, EVEN CLEAN UNDIES. However, things have changed…
My eight-year-old son was going to spend the night with his sister. He said he had brought everything with him. But when he emerged from the car, he seemed to have nothing. I asked, “Where’s your backpack with all your stuff?”
And he answered as he patted his pants pockets, matter-of-factly, as if I had just asked the dumbest question in the world,
“I have my toothbrush and my electronics! What else do I need?”
And that, dear readers, says it all.
It’s great to have gotten through the terrible two’s, the know-it-all teen years, and most of the angst your kids suffered while they were growing up. You now have grown children whom you’re proud of – they have their own problems to deal with, but they’re THEIR problems. Not ours.
And that’s one thing we parents have to learn when dealing with grown children:
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!
Or, in simpler terms:
M Y O B!!!!
(Unless of course they need help, and then they’re usually more than willing, even happy and enthusiastic, to accept handouts and help out of their jams).
Hey – if any of my kids are reading this – DON’T WORRY: it’s not YOU! (It’s the “OTHER” one).
(Note to parents: Kind of like telling each of your kids on the sly that they’re your favorite, but to keep it a secret!).
Kids – gotta love ‘em!!
Being compulsive about my blog as I am, I check the blog stats regularly to see who/what sites have been accessing my blog. I came across an apparent accidental access by someone who was trying to search the web for “10-year-old spontaneous crying”. If that person visits my site again, I would just like to comment on this issue.
I have five kids, three of which are girls. One of my girls just turned 11, and I would just like to reassure you – she had bouts of spontaneous crying as well. I think most of it is just the hormonal blitz that girls this age experience. If this is the only “symptom”, it’s probably just a phase she’s going through.
However, I also have a girl who suffers from a mental disorder, and her symptoms began to surface when she was ten. She had trouble getting along with others, especially authority figures (such as in school). She was extremely rebellious when she felt she was being treated unfairly. In addition, she was such a good fabricator that you would swear she thought she was telling the truth. (We came to find out this was one of the hallmarks of her disorder – manufacturing facts to fit her feelings. So she did, in fact, think she was telling the truth). But we have gotten through the worst of it, and her life has gotten progressively better. I think we have “overcome.”
There Is Hope
I’m not a medical professional – I can only tell you what I’ve experienced as a parent. If your child’s spontaneous crying is the only issue, it will probably pass. But if there are other issues he/she is suffering through, you might want to get her evaluated by a mental health professional. My husband and I came to decide that early intervention was so much better than waiting around for things to change on their own. So if my 11-year-old ever begins to show the same signs as her sister, we will be proactive and try to get treatment earlier than we did the first time around.
But remember – things can, and do, get better. There is hope. You will get through it, and maybe become even stronger people, and a closer family, than when you started out.