The Child Who Never Was (story: help to deal with the guilt of abortion)

The Child Who Never Was

My name is Adam. I have come to tell you about my life, or rather what my life would have been like, had I been born, which I was not.

I started after an act of passion during the short relationship of my mother and my father. They had no plans in their minds to create a life. They had been willing to throw all caution to the four winds and to experience that which drew them together. Sexual attraction drew them together, little else.

Nature is a hard task master. My mother was a fertile young woman and my father a virile and selfish young man. I was the result of this communion. When my mother realised that I existed, at first she denied it. How could it be? She and the young man hardly knew each other and had slept together on only one occasion. My mother, being naïve and optimistic, ignored the fact that she had not had a period for several weeks. My father knew nothing at all of my existence. He was a young student, studying to become a lawyer and his parents had great hopes for him. My mother was a barmaid with a pretty smile and little experience in life. Her parents were hard working people. Her mother was a cleaner and her father worked as a menial clerk on a poor wage. They loved their daughter and had brought her up to be a good girl, but had not equipped her with the knowledge or the wisdom to deal with flattering young men like my father.

I was alerted to my presence in my mother’s womb. I was no more than a small puff of energy quietly awaiting the birth of a body which I was not destined to inhabit.

My mother started to feel sick and had to take time off work. Her boss was a canny woman of the world. She soon guessed at the problem and its cause. She took my mother aside. After initial denial my mother admitted that this woman’s suspicions were not unfounded and that she didn’t know what to do.

“I’ll tell you what to do; you must get rid of it as soon as possible. Your mum and dad can’t afford to support a baby and neither can you. Its father is long gone and he wouldn’t want to know anyway, would he?”

The reality of the situation began to dawn on my mother, a girl of seventeen who had always been too willing to please others, especially if they flattered her and made her feel good.

She thought long and hard. Could she bring up a child on her own? She didn’t think it would be fair to expect her parents to do it. They could hardly pay the bills at the moment let alone having her and a child to support. The young man had lost interest in her as soon as he had had his way with her. She would get no support from him. She pictured herself in a high rise council flat, herself and a baby, unable to afford much more than to clothe it and feed it; lonely and bored with no partner to love her or the child. She pictured a fatherless little boy, depending on her for everything and not being able to give him what he needed. She pictured an angry and resentful teenager growing up with no role model of a father to guide him. She pictured herself tied to the child with little or no opportunity to go out and meet a proper caring husband and father for her children.

My mother realised that everything was against her bringing me into the world unless she gave me away for adoption. That thought made her weep remorsefully. That she could not do. She knew she had a lot of love to give and that if she had the chance again she would give it at the proper time to children that she chose to have with a husband that she loved. She did wonder about my soul or spirit. She did not feel certain about such things, but she reasoned that I could come back again and be born to her in another baby, and she would love me properly then.

She decided to have an abortion. Her parents did not know about this and were unable to comfort her at the time. She felt very alone, vulnerable and sad.

I did my best to console her. I stayed with her and tried to comfort her. It was not my destiny to be born as a living child to her, but rather to accompany her and the children that she did have. I was able to help her to know that she had in difficult circumstances made an acceptable decision, and that living a life of guilt and remorse would do her no good and serve no purpose at all. I helped her to see the beauty of her own life and to respect herself and never to be taken in by selfish men following their own lustful desires.

My mother has had a happy life. She has two little girls, but she is aware of the shadow of the little boy she never had, and sometimes she talks to me and I do what I can to let her know that she is forgiven.

The Day the Car Broke Down (story about sharing: lifts, grandmas, food and time, for 9-11year olds)

“For the Non Violent Person the whole world is one Family” (SSEHV)

Tom and Mary-Anne lived in the suburbs out side London. Their mum used to drive them to school on her way to work. Their dad picked them up from school at the end of the day.

Every day it was the same, Mum dropping them off, Dad picking them up. One day Jemma and Jamie’s mum Jo who lived next door, came to ask if her children could go to school with Tom and Mary-Anne. She said her car had broken down and she couldn’t take them that day. Tom’s mum Sue immediately agreed.

“ Of course I’ll take them,” she said. “It will be no trouble at all. You know my husband brings them home? You’ve met him, haven’t you? His name is Pete.”

“Are you sure Pete won’t mind bringing my two home as well?” asked Jo.

“Why should he mind? I’m sure you would do the same for us, wouldn’t you Jo?” said Sue.

“Well, yes, of course,” Jo replied and then she started thinking. She wondered why she had not thought of this before. Why did the two families both drive the children in separate cars to school?

They would save a lot of time and petrol if they shared lifts. In fact if everybody tried to share lifts there wouldn’t be so many cars on the road and the traffic would move more quickly. She explained all this to her husband Mike as they sat in the waiting room at the garage while their car was being fixed.

Mike looked at Jo with a smile and said, “Well, we never shared lifts before because you said it might cause trouble or arguments. You said you thought it was best to do everything for yourself. I didn’t argue with you but I didn’t agree either. I think people should share. It’s fun sharing.”

Tom and Mary-Anne, and Jemma and Jamie agreed. When they started to share lifts, they often stayed and played at each other’s houses. They shared meals and games and their parents shared childminders too. They had sleepovers and they even shared grandparents. Jemma and Jamie’s grandparents lived in Jamaica, but Tom and Mary-Anne’s lived just down the road. It was good to hear Grandma’s stories about the old days and to eat her home-made biscuits. Grandad helped the boys to make things out of wood using tools from his shed.

“I’m glad your car broke down that day,” said Tom to Jamie. We’re like one big family now, aren’t we? And it’s much more fun for all of us!”

Questions

Does this story remind you of anything in your life?

Is there anything that you share with friends or neighbours? 

How does it make you feel when you share something?

How do you feel when someone shares something with you?


Ida, an African Grandmother (Story about good relationships within the family) for age 9-11years

Right Conduct- Good relationships within the family. Story for 9-11year olds

 

IDA

 

My name is Ida.Nigeria is my home.I have a large family.I am a grandmother of ten children.Myself, I had four children, three boys and a girl. Now they have all grown up and have families of their own.My family still lives nearby.I look after the kids when they go out to work.I like it that way.

 

Every morning my two sons bring their kids to my home.The kids stay with me during he day.I look after four children every day.My sons give me money to buy food, otherwise I could not feed them.If we had enough money we would send the kids to school, but we cannot afford to send all of them.They boys can go, but he girls cannot.It is a pity because if the girls could learn to read and write, maybe they could get a good job and have a nice house.

 

I decided I would try to teach them everything I know, even if I cannot teach them to read and write.I have taught them how to keep themselves clean and how to keep the house and the yard tidy.They know what to do with rubbish and how to re-use everything that can be re-used.

 

They know how to grow maize and green vegetables and how to make maize meal porridge. The big girls know how to help the little ones.They have learnt songs from me which they teach the babies.They know all the names of the good insects and the bad ones.They know what stings and bites and what kills the pests on our crops.

 

I think I am teaching them useful things. They will know how to live well and survive even if, like me, they can’t read or write.I have taught them how to watch and wait, rather than to cry and shout and be impatient, like many children do, and when the work is done we play games and enjoy ourselves.

Sometimes they sit beside me and ask for stories about Old Anansi, the spider.They enjoy my stories, and my stories help them to understand the world.

 

Do you know any stories like that?

Questions

  1. What did you think of when you heard this story?
  2. Do you think the children love their Grandma Ida? Why?
  3. How could they show their love and respect for her?
  4. Who in your family teaches you things?
  5. How do you help at home?
  6. If you were in charge of your family how would you fairly divide up the jobs to be done between family members?
  7. What kinds of things can we learn at home?

 

Getting on and Falling Out . A story about non-violence for primary school children 9 – 11 years old

THE RULES

My father went to England to earn more money. He left us behind – Wazek, my brother who is twelve and me, Tadjo. Our mum works in a factory in Warsaw. We live in a flat on the outskirts of the city. Dad said that if all goes well maybe we can visit him in England. He shares a house with several other Polish people. He sends half of what he earns back home to us. It is good to have more money, but it is not good to have no dad at home. I miss him a lot. So does my mum. Sometimes she cries at night. She thinks we don’t hear, but we do. It’s usually when we’ve been arguing. She used to say, ‘Just wait until your dad gets home’. She doesn’t say it any more. She just tells us to stop arguing and then she goes out and leaves us to it.

Boys arguing blog pic

I wish we would stop arguing. I don’t know why we do it really. It’s just a way of filling time, I think. We pick fights with each other on purpose. Then we shout and if it gets really bad, we hit each other. We don’t do that much though. It’s not like on telly. They just keep hitting each other on the screen, and no one ever gets hurt. But real life is different. One wallop and it really hurts. It’s not funny at all. So usually we just shout at each other and maybe throw things. That’s not much good either though. Things get broken and then we have nothing to play with. When we shout the neighbours start to knock on the walls. Then my mum goes all pale and begs us to stop. It’s awful really.

It’s not like that at my friend’s flat. I like being there. His family don’t argue like ours. They have what he calls ‘Rules’.

The first rule is: ‘Don’t hit each other’.

The second rule is: ‘If you want to argue you have to say: ‘Wait’. Then the other person says, ‘Why?’ You then tell them what you think is the problem. If they agree, then the problem is solved. If they don’t agree, then you have to say, ‘Let’s talk’.

That’s it really. Talking always solves the problem. Sometimes it’s difficult for people who don’t talk so much, but in a family you should respect each other and try to keep everyone happy. I am going to tell my mum and my brother about the rules. I think we could make them work in our family. We miss our dad, but we shouldn’t need him here just to keep the peace!

Questions:

Did the story remind you of anything in your life?

How do you normally settle an argument ?

Can you role play a row that you might have and find a way of solving it without shouting, hitting or running out of the room and slamming the door?

What effect do you think watching violent films or computer games might have on young people?

A Child Dies (Therapeutic story for grieving parents)

Death of a Child – a story told by a Swiss Nun

Many people have visited my convent over the past forty years. Most of them are looking for solace of one kind or another. Some have lost their parents, some their brother or their sister. Many wives who have lost husbands have come and not so many husbands who have lost wives. Probably the most frequent cause of grief that we need to console is that of a mother who has lost a child. That is a particular kind of grief which breaks the heartstrings and is therefore impossible to mend, but not impossible to come to terms with.

A mother and child have such a bond that even across continents and across the years, the separation of death is very painful.

When a child dies before it has grown to maturity the grief is of a particular sort. It is the grief of lost hopes and dreams. The future which will now never happen has been torn away.

My story is of a woman who had three children. Her eldest child who was then six had died of leukemia. Two younger children remained. The woman was inconsolable. Her husband brought her to visit the convent six months after the child had died. The woman had become very thin and pale. She could hardly look after the remaining children, so deep was her grief that her energy had drained away. Her husband told us that he thought that she herself might become ill and die because she had lost all interest in her life.

The woman stayed with us for a month. Fortunately she was able to leave her other children in the care of her husband’s mother.

At first whenever we tried to get her to speak of her grief, all she could do was to weep. Gradually as she became more rested in the quiet atmosphere of the convent she began to relax and to tell us something of the son that she had lost.

A clever boy, very much like her own father in appearance, he had shown abilities and interests that she had never had. He was artistic and musical and she and her husband had bought him a little violin to play. The noise was terrible, but they encouraged him and sent him to a teacher and though he only ever played simple tunes, his mother had visualised him up on a stage, a child prodigy at perhaps ten years of age, playing to an audience.

When his sisters came along, the boy who was called Robin, used to entertain them even as small babies, with his antics. They loved their big brother and their mother had taken on their grief as well – their loss of a brother who was going to be a shining star to them, as she foresaw it.

The mother began to want to know about how others had come to terms with the loss of their children. She had a huge appetite for information about real life stories of child deaths. We were able to tell her about the different ways in which people who had come to us had coped. The pain of the loss will be similar in every case, but the circumstances around the death are always very different. Some people cope by shutting out all thoughts and memories of the child. Others cope by keeping the child very much alive in their thoughts, almost as if he or she were still there, perhaps in the next room. Many people seek the company of others who have had similar experiences of the death of a child, through self-help support groups. Talking about ones pain gradually releases it, until through repetition one comes to a point where the need to talk recedes and the necessity of moving on comes to the fore. We put our young mother, Sophie, in touch with a group of bereaved parents. In her case it helped a great deal and over time she began to accept her situation and to turn her attention to the little girls who so needed their mother’s love.

Sophie came back to us two years after the death of her son. She looked healthy and happy and was able to speak of her experience with gratitude for the years of joy she had had with her son. The family had recovered from their loss. They spoke of Robin now and again, and had his picture on the mantlepiece, but they were able to live in the ‘Now’, rather than in the ‘What might have been’. To us in the convent that is what we try to achieve on a daily basis – to live in the ‘Now’.