Neglect

 

Neglect is powerful, silent, and deadly. It doesn’t come in the form of a slap or a punch yet it wields just as many scars, just as many bruises. Neglect silently screams, “I do not care enough to be bothered by you.”

As I sit and type this I can feel the pain inside of my chest as I remember my little sister and how she was never truly cared for.  Nikki was born while we still lived in “the old house”. The old house was the house my dad grew up in and we lived in it for several years until my dad built us a new home when I was in the 3rd grade. The old house was cold and drafty and heated by a wood stove.

I will not speak of the horrors that were occurring during the time of my baby sister’s birth. If you let your mind wander down the very darkest corridors of human depravity you may stumble upon some evil and accurate guesses.  To put it mildly, she did not enter a stable environment.

My dad was “backslidden” at the time, which meant he didn’t go to church. Instead, he worked, drank Budweiser or Schlitz, and would sit in his truck late at night and rev the engine loudly while his wife and kids laid terrified in their beds wondering what he was going to do next. He turned every day into a nightmare. Some people are just gifted that way.

Now don’t go thinking that when he went to church he was much better. He wasn’t. I would say getting Jesus made him a little more tolerable but he still found time to commit offenses during his “saved” periods which could’ve sent him to prison for a very long time.  And at his funeral everyone admired how much he loved to read the bible. Shame on them.

Her playpen was in the top right corner of the house beneath a window and that is where she would hang out during the day. I can’t remember if she had a crib or not. I do know that there wasn’t a nursery for her or really anything special for her at all.  There was never anything special for any of us.

My little sister was bottle-fed. She had a bottle all the time. Even when she started getting her baby teeth she would have a bottle. My mom would put her to bed with one in her mouth and this habit led to very serious consequences. It’s called Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. It comes from neglect and perhaps a lack of education on the parent’s part. Maybe my mom didn’t know that milk is pretty much just sugar and that baby teeth like adult teeth also need to be brushed.

All of Nikki’s front teeth top and bottom had to be removed because they were so rotten. The dentist that performed this surgery ended up cutting my sister’s lip by mistake. You can still see the faint scar on her lip to this day. It was so terrible. I can’t even imagine doing this kind of thing to my own children.

My mom didn’t keep regular pediatrician visits like mothers are taught to do these days and she certainly didn’t take us to the dentist. My dad didn’t believe in or like doctors. He liked to “pray” for his healing.  He had false teeth so why should he care about our teeth? All of his had rotted out when he was a teenager. My mother had great teeth but it never occurred to her to teach us about brushing or flossing our teeth or taking us for regular cleanings. My parents didn’t even buy floss. Maybe she didn’t know it was her job to teach us these things. I simply don’t know the answer to this question. All I can see in retrospect is Neglect! Neglect! Neglect! on so many levels. And we paid the price. My little sister paid the price.

For some reason, my little sister had sinus issues all year long. Her colds were so bad that her little nose would run incessantly. It would be yellow and green and it perched in a permanent location right on top of her upper lip. And yes she was sent to school in that condition every day without a single Kleenex in her pocket.  She probably needed a round of antibiotics, a better diet, or a battery of allergy tests but neither her mom nor her dad did one damn thing about it. Rain or shine Nikki would get on the school bus most mornings with a runny nose and get off the school bus with a runny nose her snotty nose being a visible sign of neglect.