Orphan Survival Stories Index |
"A PROBLEM CHILD"
Hello, Roger. My name is Mrs. McGarvey and I am your friend," said the dark haired woman sitting across from me. “How old are you?”
"I'm 6 now.”
"Do you know why you are here?" she asked.
"If we are going to talk, I want you to sit up straight in your chair and listen very closely to what I have to say. Do you understand me?"
"Yes ma'am," I said in a low voice.
I was not exactly sure what was happening. Earlier that morning, I had overheard the matron telling Mrs. Winters, the head matron, that I was to see a social worker later in the day. I just sat with my little hands on my knees and stared at her. I was afraid to move and was scared she might hit me in the face like the matron at our dormitory did all the time.
"Why did you kill those goldfish?" she asked.
I began to shake all over and my legs started to quiver.
"I didn't kill no goldfish. Really I didn't, Mrs. Ma'am."
“The report here says you tried to flush the fish down the toilet."
She pointed to the paperwork she held in her hands.
"It's not true. I wouldn't never kill nothin’. I like goldfish and stuff."
I covered my face getting ready for the hit that always came when I was in trouble.
"Then why would somebody say that about you?" she asked as she stood up from her chair.
"I don't know. I really don't."
"Can you tell me what happened?"
"One of the boys poured the ink bottle thing in the fish tank. I carried the fish in my T-shirt to the toilet where there was clean water so they could breathe," I explained.
"We have a problem here. Children who kill animals will also one day kill people. Do you understand what I am saying to you?" she asked.
"But I didn't kill nothing. I wouldn't never hurt nobody. Really I wouldn't," I said.
"I think you are lying to me, young man," she said.
"But that's what really happened."
"I think we need to take you before the judge and have you locked away for a while," she said as she sat back down in her seat.
"But I didn't do nothin' wrong. Are you gonna put me IN THE JAIL!" I screamed as I started to cry.
I sat completely terrified. Little bolts of lighting were going off inside my head. I wanted so much to get up and run, but there was no place and no one to run to. I felt as if my little head was about to explode. I fell from the school-style chair and curled up on the floor, my arms wrapped around my head as if I was a little baby.
"DO YOU THINK ANYBODY WILL EVER LOVE YOU WHEN YOU CONTINUALLY ACT LIKE THIS?"
She was really mad and screaming at me.
"I don't want nobody to love me. I just wanna go back home. Please, I don't wanna go to the big jail!" I begged.
"Get up off that floor and sit back down in your seat."
Slowly, I got up from the floor and sat back down in my chair.
"It says here that you constantly lie about almost everything. Is that true?" she asked.
"Sometimes I do."
"Why do you lie?"
"Cause I don't like getting hit in my head all the time.”
"Then you should not lie and no one would hit you in the head," she said.
"But I can't make my own bed. It is too big for me to make it very tight like they want. I just can't do it right no more," I said.
"Then you need to try a little harder. It also says you refuse to do your chores.”
"I don't like sticking my hands in the toilet water. It's real dirty and it smells bad," I said.
"Everyone who lives here in the orphanage has to do their share. Don't you understand that? That is what makes things work properly in a home. Everyone has to pitch in," she explained.
"But I don't wanna be here no more."
I was sobbing loudly.
"I want to tell you something, young man. If you do not change your ways and start taking on a little responsibility, you will be dead before you reach 21. Do you hear me?"
"I don't wanna be dead."
"Head back over to the boys’ dormitory and try a little harder to go along with the program," she instructed.
"What's the program?" I asked.
Mrs. McGarvery looked at me very sternly. Then she pointed over to the door. I ran as fast as I could back to the dormitory and up to my room.
I will never forget that meeting as long as I live. It bothers me to know that in the orphanage records, of which I have a copy, it tells the world that I was a killer of animals, that I was a liar and a thief. I was simply a confused little 6-year-old boy. I had to work every day of my young life cleaning floors and toilets, and raking pine straw.
I was a little boy, who was so confused, he could not even think straight. I was a little boy, who was too afraid to think for himself. I was a little boy, who did not think about what was ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ I was a little boy, who was totally without feelings when it came to distinguishing between ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ I was an innocent little boy, who had to do whatever it took to protect himself from the dangers around him. I was a little boy, who constantly walked around with his hands covering his face. I was just a little 6-year-old boy, who was afraid to look up for fear of what might hurt him next.
"Yes, I may have very well been a ‘problem child.’ However, the real problem was not with me. It was with those who were charged with my care. There is only one reason why I survived. As a grown man and even as a scared little boy, I always knew the truth.