I either missed my calling, or, I'm a monster. It's up in the air.
Here's my question to resolve it. When do you know your stress coping strategies might not be working for you?
- after killing a man because he sat in your chair? (It's your chair dammit!)
- after eating the contents of the dairy section of your local super market? (Stress sucks dammit!)
- after making your class laugh during a presentation on child abuse? (Child abuse is wrong dammit!)
All of the above really. But wait! That last one doesn't make sense.
And yet, that's what I managed to do. When I'm stressed, uncomfortable or anxious a number of things happen. I might start talking a lot, like A LOT, and very quickly. I might giggle nervously after absolutely everything I say. It's extremely annoying. I might act like a complete goofball. Yes, it actually gets worse when I'm stressed. Or, I might make a lot of sarcastic, dark, snide, inappropriate remarks. Today I was apparently in the mood to make sarcastic, dark, snide and inappropriate remarks.
I'm pretty much stressed to my breaking point. Putting me up in front of a classroom full of people... not the greatest idea. So, first, I would like to state with absolute clarity that I do not condone child abuse. Children are innocent people who only have love to give and who give it freely. Anyone who abuses that should be taught the meaning of abuse, should be made to suffer what they've inflicted on a child. It's not a laughing matter.
Until of course I come in.
For neglect I said: Picture Harry Potter living in the cupboard under the stairs.
For warning signs of neglect, I said: If the kid is really thin, like beanpole thin, it might be a sign of abuse. Well, not necessarily I suppose... some people are fortunate enough to have that body type, but skeletal thin, that's a problem. You should watch for that.
For sexual abuse I said: It doesn't matter if the child is consenting to sexual acts because our laws protect minors and they can't legally consent to sexual acts until they reach the age of 16 (or 18 when the sexual act involves exploitation by a person in a position of authority or trust). So if you have a fourteen year old girl telling you that she wants to have sex with a thirty eight year old man, tell her that you don't care because she's a child and that's gross.
I'm so eloquent it's stunning. And I'm not at all biased.
On the one hand, I think our presentation needed a bit of levity and if my awkward ramblings brought that... well, mission accomplished. The material and the topic make for a heavy, emotionally draining talk. It's hard to sit through without getting that little reprieve. At the same time, I hope it didn't seem like I was making light of a very serious, damaging and all too common subject.
Stupid anxiety! Oddly enough, those two words kind of sum up the whole day. In an attempt to avoid crushing stress tomorrow, I'm off to bed.
Remember: Child abuse is no laughing matter. Stop it when you can. It's our social responsibility.