I Survived this Childhood Trauma with the Help of Kindness

 little girl who survived childhood trauma looking down at water

My First School Experience

My first experience in a school-like setting was in a combination of a school daycare-like environment that also served children with special needs.

While most children look forward to starting school, my experience was not what I had expected.

I recall some instances quite clearly, while others not so much.

Labeled Difficult

I remember being quite oppositional and obstinate at times, especially if I was treated with disdain and cruelty.

I don’t remember where I was living at the time, but if I was with my mother, it would have been shortly after my return from foster care.

I believe that this was my way of acting out my rage and fear that I was too afraid of at the time. My speech was delayed, and I had other health issues as well. I haven’t a clue whether anyone thought to notify my caregivers or staff management.

Was I labeled difficult and thought a lost cause? At just five or six years old?

I’m not sure why I acted out at the school and not at home. Perhaps I was afraid of being taken away again. Maybe I thought if I was good at home, I’d be safe. At any rate, no one had a clue what was going on at that place.

Punishment

I do remember one woman quite clearly, though not the details of her face.

She was quite a large woman, while I was small for my age. I certainly didn’t let that deter me if I felt wronged or mistreated. I would let her know I was not happy in no uncertain terms, and anyone nearby would know as well.

Screaming for Attention

I remember screaming what must have been blood-curdling or bone-chilling screams. The punishment would consist of me being “fastened” to a little wooden chair.

I’m not sure how this was thought to be justified punishment.

I would rock in this chair until it tipped over and then I would put back upright again at which point I would repeat it all over again.

I truly don’t understand what their logic was. I can’t have been the only one who experienced this brand of “justice”. Tying a child to a chair.... Nope, nothing wrong with that.

Hiding in Plain Sight

There was a storage closet in my classroom, which I would hide in, much to the chagrin of the monster lady. I could crawl into the furthest corner, and I would laugh with glee as she tried to cajole me out.

Good luck lady! You think I’m coming out?! Think again!

After a while, a new “ punishment was devised.. If she didn’t feel like dealing with me, “Just pass her on to some other chump” must have been her thoughts.

The Other Room

This room had children with special needs. I didn’t understand it back then but that was why I was probably so scared. It doesn’t even make sense that I was scared, only that it was used as a punishment. So I had a negative association with that room.

The lady there was kind and understanding. I don’t think she agreed with their methods either. She explained to me that some children aren’t able to feed themselves or other things that we take for granted. They just need extra help and they’re not any different than us.

I’m not sure just how many times I was sent to this room, but it was a few, for sure. At one point, I was screaming and crying so loud from the washroom that another woman came to see what all the commotion was about.

A Very Special Promise

I vaguely remember that while her voice was calming and reassuring to me, she was upset about this ever-recurring “punishment.”

She made a promise to me that day. If I were well behaved for the rest of the year, she would give me a doll with two outfits.

Well, I have to say, if ever there was a dramatic turnaround, this would be it! I was as good as gold from that day forward. I just kept her promise at the forefront of my mind.

My Reward

The day came, and true to her word, I received my doll with an extra outfit. This doll would be my prized possession for many years This doll was proof that there were indeed good caring people in places that could sometimes be scary and ominous.

I still remember this lady fondly and her generosity.

Not only because of the doll but because she showed her caring spirit to a little girl who was angry and afraid in an uncertain time in her young life.


Robin Klammer is a stay-at-home mom who loves nature and animals.  She's currently working on some projects she hopes to publish in the near future. She's also former support staff in a public school and currently volunteers at her son's school. She's proud of her well-earned dark sense of humor.

You can find more of her writing on Medium.