My daughter, who is 3, had a nightmare last night.
She woke up screaming in terror and hid in the bathroom with her blanket, stuffed animal and pillow. It was awful.
I went and sat next to her and after awhile, she crawled into my lap, sobbing and begging me to promise that I would stay.
In her nightmare, Mommy and Momma were gone. Not gone to work or something, but gone forever.
Yesterday she also suddenly started crying at preschool, half an hour before the end of the program. She told Momma tearfully, “I missed you.”
This is probably every small child’s worst fear – that they will be separated forever from their parents. In Katie Beth’s case, I wonder if she is worrying about this because we have been reading her the “Jungle Book.” She really loves King Louie and wants to be a mancub like Mowgli, but I wonder if she’s started thinking about what it means for Mowgli to be an orphan.
As I comforted Katie Beth, I couldn’t help remembering the many times I comforted foster children on this very same topic: fearing they would never see their family again.
I think if more people could see the pain those children go through, when they are ripped from their families, they would be more hesitant to remove children for what I call the criminal offense of living in poverty. Kids get removed because there aren’t beds in the house, or because there’s not enough food, or because the parents (often one, a single mom) can’t find enough affordable and trustworthy babysitters to watch the children while she is at work.
If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, I suggest sending money to Things of My Very Own. The organization provides beds to families who have literally been told the children will be sent off to strangers if they don’t find a bed before 5 p.m. In some cases, kids are sleeping on crib mattresses on the floor and someone reported them to CPS. In other cases, the adult searching for a bed is a family member - aunts, uncles, grandparents - who is stepping in as "kinship care" for a child who is being removed from a parent. But they must have a bed or the child will be sent to foster care.
Things of My Very Own provides a lot of other stuff too, from toys to clothes, but I donate to their bed fund. No child should have their worst fear realized because their parents can’t afford a bed.