Hoe Little Jane Dies

February 20, 2010
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Imagine you are the neighbor to a family with two small children. One Saturday morning you hear the mom yelling at her 5-year old daughter Jane. She screams obscenities at her and tells her she is worthless, stupid, and disrespectful. You hear the little girl crying and pleading, the sound of glass breaking, a thud and then silence. You’re unsure what to do. Should you call the police? What if you’re wrong, or what if your neighbor finds out who called? You think to yourself “Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it sounded.” So you do nothing.

Meanwhile at Little Jane’s House……

Mommy is sleeping late Saturday morning like she often does after drinking that smelly stuff called alcohol. Jane doesn’t like it when mommy drinks cause it makes her act funny and sometimes she gets mean. Jane is hungry but, she waits a while hoping mommy will wake up and fix her something to eat. Much later she decides to go ahead and get a bowl of cereal, as mommy shows no signs of waking up anytime soon. She tries to be real quiet, but the cereal box is up too high in the cabinet, and Jane can’t reach it. She drags a kitchen chair over to the counter and uses it to climb on so she can grab the cereal. She still can’t quite reach the box so she stands on her tip toes and stretches her little arms as far as she can. Just as her fingers close around the box, she loses her balance and along with the box of cereal tumbles to the floor. Trying hard not to cry from hitting her elbow on the counter, she hurriedly starts to clean up the mess, wiping the few tears, that manage to sneak out, onto the sleeve of her dress. With a sick feeling of dread in the pit of her tummy she realizes it’s too late. Mommy storms into the kitchen and Jane can tell by the look on her face that she is really mad. She starts yelling angry words at Jane telling her she is “worthless,” “stupid” and “disobedient.” Then she grabs Jane by the hair and smacks her in the mouth.

Jane tries to tell mommy she was sorry, that she didn’t mean to be stupid, that she was only trying to get something to eat cause she was really hungry. She had went to bed the night before without supper, because mommy was punishing her for being disobedient. (Jane had forgotten that she wasn’t allowed to answer the phone and she had gotten excited thinking it might be daddy and answered it.) Mommy stops her apology by slapping her in the mouth again, causing Jane to stumble against the table and knock a glass of water to the floor, shattering it in a million pieces. Mommy screams at her, calling her “a clumsy and disrespectful brat.” Jane isn’t sure what being disrespectful means but it must be something really bad because mommy locks her in the closet for a long time. She tells her to sit in there and think about how she can be a better little girl. She tries, she really does, but it is dark and scary in the closet and she misses her daddy so much. Why doesn’t he come home and save her? Or take her out for ice cream like he sometimes does?

Her daddy is her hero. When he is home he protects her and her baby brother from mommy when she gets in one of her moods. Jane is proud to go out with daddy; he is a lot of fun and looks nice in his military uniform. He is also big and strong; always smells so good and makes Jane feel safe.

She promises mommy when she finally comes to let her out of the closet that she won’t be disrespectful anymore. But just to be sure, mommy tells her to go straight to bed without supper. This makes Jane feel like crying but she knows that if she cries mommy might think she is being disrespectful again and that could mean more time in the closet, so she puts her head down and walks slowly to bed. It isn’t until mommy locks the bedroom door and her tummy starts to rumble real loud that the tears come.

Little Jane is happy to be going back to Kindergarten Monday morning, because it means she will be able to get something to eat. It has been a long weekend with daddy gone for military training. Jane spent most of it locked in her bedroom, with only a bowl of macaroni and cheese to eat the entire time.

Jane comes home from school excited to see her daddy, but he isn’t home from the military yet and mommy is passed out on the couch. Quietly, so as not to wake mommy up, she tiptoes upstairs to check on her baby brother, who she can hear whimpering in his crib. Jane knows by the smell that his diaper is yucky. Baby John is lying in is crib, his little body shaking. He has been crying so long his voice is now hoarse and his tiny face is all red, puffy and tear stained. As Jane reaches in the crib to get John’s spoiled milk bottle, he spies her and his cries become louder. He reaches his tiny arms out for her to pick him up. As she is trying to get the side of the crib down, mommy comes into the room, bleary eyed, her hair in disarray and the smell of alcohol surrounding her. “Jane!” “What on earth is all this racket?” “If I have told you once I have told you a hundred times, I do not like to be woken up when I am taking a nap!” “Is that too hard for you to understand, you little idiot?” “Why don’t you ever listen?” “You make me regret ever having you in the first place!” I swear Jane sometimes you are incredibly stupid!” “You can’t even keep the baby quiet for a few minutes while I rest!” “I guess it’s too much to ask that you help out a little bit around here, dammit!”

Little Jane remains very still with her head and eyes glued to the floor. She is terrified and really needs to pee, but she knows from experience that to say anything could cause mommy to become even angrier and she might end up back in the closet or worse. The last time mommy was this angry and Jane tried to tell her she was sorry for being so stupid, she was beaten with a wooden spoon for back talking (another word Jane doesn’t really understand), until her legs were bleeding and herbackside was swollen black and blue.

“Helloooo, Jaaaneee!” “I am talking to you!” “What the hell is the matter with you young lady?” “Think you’re too good to answer me?” Well by God, I’m your mother and when I ask you a question I expect you to answer me!” She grabs Jane by the arms and shakes her. “Do you hear me?”

“Yes mommy, I’m sorry I thought you wanted me to be quie-“

“Shut up!” “Just shut the f*** up!” “I’m sick of your attitude!”

Jane saw mommy’s eyes go a deeper shade of blue and her mouth forming spittle at the corners. Jane knows she is in big trouble. She manages to whimper “Daddy," before mommy grabs her by the hair and starts slapping her in the face over and over. Jane once again becomes very still and goes limp letting her small body slump to the floor. She immediately curls into a tight ball with her hands and arms covering her face for protection against the onslaught of slaps, punches, and kicks that are being delivered continuously……

Little Jane closes her eyes tightly and thinks of her daddy and the delicious pink bubble gum ice cream that he had bought her last weekend at the Post Exchange store….

“Daddy will be home soon,” she tells herself as the onslaught of blows continues without mercy…. “Why?" She thinks sadly as the pain overwhelms her and her world turns black, "am I such a bad little girl?" “Why doesn’t someone come and save me?”.......

Meanwhile you the neighbor come home from work that evening and see police cars and an ambulance at Little Jane’s house. As you get out of the car, you notice a lone figure in military uniform, standing on the front lawn holding an ice cream cone in one of his large hands. The pink gooey bubble gum pieces have started to melt and slide off the cone, but he doesn’t seem to notice as he stands there, silently with tears streaming down his face, watching the paramedics load the small lifeless body, covered in a white sheet, into the back of the ambulance.

More than 3 million (Child Help 2006), children die each year due to child abuse and neglect. That is approximately 4 every day......

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