those who beat their children

They told me I was too young to visit the prison ministry, so I was assigned the juvenile home instead. I was dreading it for multiple months, but it kept popping up in my head. Then multiple people brought it up to me, seemingly random. So I finally said I’d show up to this juvenile home with troubled youth who only speak canto, and I barely speak canto.

I was surprised how happy some of them were. Even though sometimes they didn’t listen to the old chinese lady playing piano and her white husband playing the saxophone, they were smiling. Sometimes they even joined in with the singing. They had never seen us before. I stood there awkwardly, I saw them looking at my arms. I should’ve wore a different shirt.

The organizer volunteer told me some of them get sent here from a court order from a social worker or the police. They might be beaten badly in their home, so they live in the juvie for about a month. Sometimes they come back.

I thought of my own home. Sometimes my dad would leave me and my siblings at a car dealership because they had free drinks and popcorn. Sometimes the lounge was really nice, with black leather couches, and a large tv. I remember I’d get a bit anxious every time the workers would walk by and still see us there. One time they approached us and asked where our parents were. We were too small and shy, and didn’t the schools tell us not to talk to strangers? So we weren’t very cooperative and they were talking about social services or child protection services or something, and I didn’t know what that was, so I didn’t know what to do, and I was the youngest too, so what was I supposed to do. Then my dad finally came back and spat with the workers because they were concerned for us, but he didn’t like them in his business.

What if he took 20 minutes longer? Would I be in one of those homes? What if they didn’t catch him this time around, but on the plethora of other visits we had to car dealerships. Sometimes he’d come back late and pretend to buy a car. Or what if they caught him when he left us at a library in a faraway city for like eight hours.

Me and the organizer volunteer talked with two of the boys. They were 14 and 15, and seemed so young. I thought it wasn’t etiquette to ask these questions, but the organizer started asking them how they got there, if their parents hit them, where they hit them. Maybe the shy one did want to talk about it but just didn’t know how or was just completely uncomfortable. He told us he didn’t get along with his dad. They argued often. His dad hit him often. But he did get along with his mother. But then the organizer asked, "Does your mother hit you?". "No. She kicks me.", replied the kid. Everytime he brought up his parents’ abuse, he blatantly looked away from us. Completely turned his head the other direction. I also wanted to, but I’m not sure it would’ve helped if they saw me crying.

I just want them to be okay. I want the dads to stop being complete fuck ups.

He told me on a scale of 1-10, living at the juvie is a 6. Kid, we can get that number higher. I’m so sorry you’re going through this right now. I’m so sorry.

It’s these fucked up adults that fuck another idiot and have a kid and beat them. These are the ones I hate. But now more than ever, after that visit, I’m reminded how important it is to love your peers, especially the tough ones, because they could be future child abusers.

And sometimes I think of how fucked up I am, and if there’s even any hope of becoming a good father.

Kid, I hope I can convince the both of us that you will be okay.

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