I recently joined my son’s class in time to catch a birthday celebration of one of the students. Good times to say the least. There was ice cream and cupcakes and students smiling and having a generally good time. The teacher was relaxed and students were giving her high fives. The atmosphere was celebratory.
One student almost ruined it for me. His eyes were lifeless as he stared at me without looking away. So, I looked away (Yeah, he took my heart! So?!). I looked back at him, and his judging eyes were sad, and his demeanor suggested that he was being abused. Now, keep in mind that I couldn’t look directly at him. His gaze was like the sun–powerful and captivating and dangerous. He wasn’t eating ice cream. He wasn’t eating a cupcake. He wasn’t smiling.
Because I was afraid of him, I finally decided to ask the teacher why that kid was staring at me and why he wasn’t having a cupcake or ice cream or fun or happiness or a good time or conversations with other students. She told me that “he’s fine,” and that “he’s a Jehovah’s Witness.” Apparently, they don’t believe in celebrating birthdays or having a good time or something or another. I won’t pretend that I looked into the JW belief system. Everything I know about the religion I learned during this experience.
Let me just say that I what I saw was child abuse. I tried to sneak him some ice cream, but apparently, having witnessed Jehovah makes you strong enough to resist the normal temptations that come with childhood. That kid had more integrity than most adults, but damn! Can’t the kids get some ice cream?! He almost ruined my celebratory mood–almost. I pushed through his integrity and stayed strong in my own convictions. I gleefully ate a couple of cupcakes and ice cream in front him. Good times.