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My River, My Child

stories of hope Nov 21, 2018
rushing river with rapids

By Kathryn Taylor


All the kids I’ve known,
These awful, awful people
Who took me as their own?
Don’t they even realize
I’m not their’s in the least?
They wanna be mom and dad-
All I see are two thieves-
They haven’t asked a ransom-
They’ve fooled all those around
Into believing that they love me
And I am safe and sound-
But one day I’ll escape
And find my way back home,
Then my family will embrace me
And I’ll never be alone-


If my child were a river, you would be captured by her beauty. Lovely shade trees grow along her banks. Huge river rocks sit picturesquely within her waters. She appears quiet and gentle. Very few, though, know how deeply she runs. Her essence flows towards the sea, with an undercurrent propelling a force beyond imagination. Looking at her on a calm still day, one would never realize how quickly she could become a raging torrent of devastation.

For those who have never personally experienced the havoc of a flood, it is hard to imagine its far reaching consequences. When a river overflows its channel, it invades the space of all who dwell nearby. There is no respect of life or possessions. It sweeps all in its path: the young, the old, houses full of dreams and memories, businesses, pets, fields of livestock, and forests centuries old. The raging flood also unearths those who have been laid to rest in tranquil, well-kept cemeteries. Sewage and trash defile and bring disease. Drinking water fouls. Evacuation is necessary.

For those who stay behind, dangerous and physically draining work lasts day and night. The most important task is trying to define new boundaries for the water that demands their attention. Sand bags, simple devices not good for much else, are used to build levies hoping to protect others from the surging water. Volunteers from around the country come to aid the victimized. The disheveled community receives national compassion, as unaffected people sit in their cozy living rooms, watching as camera crews show first-hand how the angry waters have overtaken these poor lives. As parents of a Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) child, we spend most of our days sand-bagging our river. It seems we are constantly rearranging them to better confine her. Sometimes, our family is ravaged on a daily basis. Many of our possessions have been destroyed by her anger storms. She fills our home with the mud and sludge of past pain. Our home reeks with the stench of her misplaced bodily waste. She unearths issues we thought were long dead. We never know how high the waters will come. Instinctively, we assemble our wall of sandbags. Working quickly, we stack until a levy is built. Sometimes, we must evacuate the rest of the family for their safety.

It is not her fault. The thunderstorms of her early life would not stop coming. Whenever she thinks of them, she swells and begins to overflow. So, what is our dilemma? There are no camera crews around when she floods.

No new’s flashes bleep across TV screens telling of the urgency. Red Cross volunteers do not have a clue we need help. All anyone ever sees is a quiet flowing river and blue skies. Friends and family visit seeing sandbags everywhere. The aroma of mud faintly scents the air. Bedraggled family members gather their wits as outsiders wonder what in the world is wrong with us. RAD kids are experts at looking good. It seems they have a full-time staff at the Chamber of Commerce making themselves look like the most perfect little river-town in America. It seems there is never a rainy day, never a cloud in the sky. These children have the unique ability to raise the floodwaters 28 feet out of their banks and by the time Sunday guests arrive for dinner, they are gently flowing along. By this time, however, the rest of the family is in desperate need of the Red Cross. To protect ourselves from false ridicule, we quickly shift gears as if we have had a pleasant day in the park. Who would believe what life has been like while no one was looking, when the cameras were not around? You have to see it to believe it, right?

Unlike flood victims, we cannot evacuate and leave our daughter alone. We cannot pack everything away just so she will not ruin things in a moment of rage. We have to stay and do all we can to contain the damage. We have to wade through the mud, trash, and sewage. Parents are blamed for the flood, not seen as its victims. The children are perceived as gentle streams, not raging rivers.

Unaffected people say,

“So, why not just move away from the river?” or
“What are all the sandbags for?” or
“Why are you always tense and tired?” or
“You need to lighten up, not be so confining.”
And the best one of all, “Let us help. We will have a picnic by the river today, so you can have a break.”

It sounds simple enough, unless of course, you have just spent the last three weeks in torrential downpours and the President should have just declared your home a natural disaster site.

More than anything in the world, we want to enjoy our life by the river. We dream of never having to lift another sandbag again. We would far rather enjoy quiet picnics under the trees along her banks, float her currents on an inner-tube, or fish and catch the bounty of her goodness. Instead, whenever we wade into the water, she sucks us into her deadly current. If we do not swim for all we are worth, we will drown. It grieves us to know that almost anyone can enjoy her cool waters, except us. It causes a great deal of pain to see our RAD child traipsing off to have fun with anyone, as long as it is not us. And we can guarantee that when she comes home, we’d better break out the sandbags.

The frustration RAD families feel when people doubt what they say, or reward and pity the child bringing such chaos is like everyone thumbing their noses at flood victims in need of help.

What we need is: someone to help us build levies, someone who is willing to evacuate the rest of the family when needed, someone who will come in a rainstorm and help, someone who will teach us better flood-control, and most of all, someone to believe that our river rages and floods, even though they have never seen it.


Photo by Baskin Creative Studios

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