My first job was at a small daycare caring for toddler aged children. It was there I met a little girl I think of daily, and wonder if I did right by her.
Lilly’s cheeks were round and covered with little brown freckles. When she smiled her whole face lit up, and warmed the room around her. Her laughter was contagious, and I can still hear her chuckles. She always looked to receive words of praise, and did anything she could to make me smile. She needed me to tell her how smart and beautiful she was, but most of all that I loved her. She quickly found a special place in my heart.
However, Lilly had a different side. Unprovoked, she exploded into the biggest productions of rage anyone could ever imagine. I couldn’t comprehend the sickening torture Lilly endured that resulted in her rage driven fits of kicking, biting, slapping,
and spitting. Although I always knew in my gut I didn’t want to believe it. The mere thought of the crude acts made my stomach churn.
She reeked of stale cigarette smoke which she was exposed to constantly. Everyday she came to school filthy. I started leaving “secret” marks on Lilly with a marker so I would know if she hadn’t been bathed. I eventually started washing her hair myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being cared for. Multiple times I caught Lilly pretending inappropriately with baby dolls and even attempting to touch her peers in unacceptable ways. Lilly became completely terrified when I tried to change her diaper. My heart broke knowing the cruelty she obviously endured.
Company policy stated all suspicions of abuse and neglect were to be reported to the center’s director. I informed my boss of my concerns, and at that point the situation was out of my hands. It was then my boss’s responsibility to file the necessary report with The Department of Human Resources. According to company policy I did the right thing, and I would not be informed if DHR had or had not been contacted. The policy was for my own protection, but what about the child’s protection?
I want to believe my boss did the right thing. However, I do not know if the report was ever filed with DHR, because I left my job and moved out of state shortly after. Every time I think of Lilly I feel a sting of guilt and a pit of nausea settles in my stomach. I believe I should and could have done more. I believe I should have made the report myself despite company policy. I believe no job is more important than the safety of a child. I believe I made a bad judgment call, and if I had it to do over I would make the call myself. I believe I failed Lilly. I believe…no, I know I will never make the same mistake again.
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