I once worked at a daycare for awhile after college, but before I joined the Air Force. It was like half daycare, half special education preschool/daycare. I worked there for about 9 months but left to join the Air Force.
Those kids pulled me out of a deep depression. Both the special education kids and the neuro-typical kids were awesome. I worked with three and four year olds when I started in February, and I think we had some of the 5 year olds in the early intervention program. Those kids were the best. There was one who had severe brain damage from shaken baby syndrome, a couple with cerebral palsy, a few on the autism spectrum, and some that just weren’t functioning at a high enough level.
There was one boy in particular, Henry, that didn’t talk. He could talk, he just chose not to. His mother was not very attentive and her boyfriend was abusive. He left bruises on Henry and even though he would tell the daycare staff it was his “dad” who hurt him, he would NEVER say a word to his social worker when she would come. We had to report every instance and she had to come every time. But nothing would be done. I don’t spend a ton of time worrying about these kids in my present life, but I think about them sometimes and see if I can find them. I remember some of their last names. One of the daycare kids is a pharmacist now. Another ended up dating the uncle of a kid whose mom I talked to about Tourette’s. A college friend introduced us online and then this mom shared some pictures and BOOM, there was Sarah that I had known as a three year old. It was crazy.
But Henry, and this other kid Justin (whose story is so sad that I will not share it) had it so hard. Both were in abusive households and both were really suffering and needed so much more love than they were getting. For some reason Henry jumped in my mind today and I decided to look him up. I sort of freaked out when one of the search results was sex offender registry results. Luckily that wasn’t about Henry. But I did find a result about him being arrested. The age lines up. The way he presents himself on social media lines up.
I wish Henry could’ve had a chance in life. I mean, he seems ok-ish now. He’s engaged to this woman. He seems to live somewhere that’s not a shelter. He smokes. He looks like he gets to eat most of the time. He has access to social media. But he deserved so much more.
His mother was hardly a mother and she always did whatever she could to have her boyfriend live with her, even when the state said he shouldn’t be living there because he abused Henry. Henry wasn’t toilet trained at 5 years old and she forced him to wear pullups to school. We were working with him at the daycare and he did great there. But she wouldn’t let him use the bathroom sometimes and he would wear the same pullup on Monday that we put him in on Friday afternoon.
I never saw his mother because he rode the bus in. I don’t know where he lived or what his house looked like. But I know he deserved so much more than what he got.