Talking about child abuse with the boys & My Story Concert (Start Society)

Today the boys and I went to the sTarT society concert, MY STORY, where underprivileged kids performed with their teachers and on their own. I thought it would be a good thing for the boys to see this and why having initiatives like Start is important (sorry guys, I keep messing up the spelling). We had talked over this on Fri before we went to get the tix at SAYS.MY office (thanks Farhana!) so they seemed to understand, but not in depth.

We arrived (having left the MOTH at his drawing table) in good time, bumped into friends and found good seats, waiting for others to join us. It was great to see Alexdrina (who looked fab, btw ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) Farhana (For 5 secs!), Ms. MM, Intan & kampung, Khairul (later), Tony, Martha (for 2 secs). The concert itself was hugely entertaining and what was the best part (for me) was to see how much the kids put their hearts and souls into their performances and how much they enjoyed doing it. There were lots of funny bits, a great emcee (DJ Liang if I remember correctly) who did a great job putting everyone at ease and getting the (very often quite kayu) audience. ๐Ÿ™‚ Well done to everyone involved, big cheers indeed!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Inbetween performances, there was various short videos, highlighting the abuse and horrors that kids can go through, under the additional burdens of poverty and so on, the 2nd video was about Start and how it began and the final video was about what programmes they had worked with the kids on. All in all, very interesting. For the boys, in particular j2 and k, the very graphic images from the 1st video were rather traumatising. I admit, I wasn’t expecting such graphic images in a video sequence, especially for a concert for all ages, but I guess it’s sadly a part of life, no two ways to sugar coat things.

K was the first to break down (j2 was manfully trying to hold it together, and tried chatting to Uncle Fred), and was sobbing away on my arm, more so after he had heard one of the performers speak a short monologue on how his mum had left him, and other performances about their parents leaving them at the orphanage etc and that’s one of his biggest fears, his loved ones leaving and never coming back so once he had stopped sobbing (I had to hug him and reassure him inbetween). We chatted quietly (sorry, people at the row behind!) about how we need to be glad for our blessings, and we should always be kind to those who may not have such blessings, and that is why we must always give back too, spread the blessings we have received so to speak. The best thing we can do for now is to support such events/charities in our own way and to show these kids how much we enjoyed their efforts here. He did calm down before intermission and tried bravely to clap along and cheer when we all were.

J1 discussed the 1st video with me, and he’s much more able to rationalize what he saw, saying it is very horrible, and tries to think about why it happens, and how to help those who have been through such horrors. He didnt seem too upset though, choosing to focus on the fact that the kids, despite their nasty start in life, had such joy when they learn music/the arts and putting on the performance. He seems to be able to work through it, figure out some reasoning and just look for the positive part. Interesting that, considering how emo he can be, and how much he prefers mysteries, horror. He made a special effort to talk to the kids & tell them he enjoyed their performances. Complex child, this one ๐Ÿ™‚

As for j2, he asked if he could swop places with Andi who was sat inbetween him and myself, at first I said it’s all ok, mostly because I had k sobbing away on the other side, and in the end, listening to his tone of voice when he asked again, I realised he really need to talk to me. Thank you to Fred and Andi for kindly doing the swop ๐Ÿ™‚ after a few minutes, he gripped my arm, pulled up his jacket, and sobbed, telling me how horrified he was by the images from the 1st video and he couldn’t get it out of his head, not being able to focus on the performers. So by a certain point, I had two sobbing boys on either side. I was thinking ok ok what to say.. I did sorta tell j2 the same thing as k, and I told him, much as Daddy and I would like to shelter you from such horrors, it happens. I also don’t want to throw things at you and expect you to be able to deal with it, but Mama wants to help you understand these things. Poor lad, he has a lot of empathy and a very involved imagination so he was pretty upset, even just after intermission, but when we went backstage, seeing the kids laughing and excited, he clung to me, while the other two just made themselves at home backstage (I have no idea what they did, other than snacking with Auntie Alex (thank you dear).

Before the 2nd half, j2 did some breathing exercises, with me, and washed his face. He told me when we sat down, I am going to try to focus on the concert itself now Mama, cos it’s what the kids will want to see, happy faces enjoying their efforts, not crying. They are probably tired of seeing crying and sadness. And that he did. He did enjoy it so much more, although he got a little tense when the video screen came down, in case. but he did relax in the end.

Later at dinner, they were recounting things for Daddy, and j2 said (with tears in his eyes) that it all made him angry, angry that people could do these things, and he said those people mustn’t be able to think, for no one who thinks can do things like this. And then he talked about the shows he watches on Discovery Animal Planet and how they talk about the highly evolved creatures there are. He said “Some people say that humans are highly evolved, yet they can do these things, don’t think they are so highly evolved and in fact humans are evolved from monkeys anyway.” (yes j2 has these random associations, my little professor hehe). And that is the last time we talked over it really, we moved on to discussing what percentage of DNA we share with apes, then it got onto science thereafter. Let’s see whether he comes and visits us tonight.

I am glad that they are able to articulate their fears, feelings and thoughts, and we can discuss all manner of things, from serious subjects such as the above, to the 3 million pokemon characters or the various classifications of Beyblades, or to ultra nerdy things, or just having a giggle dancing around in the rain. I hope that this will continue. I am glad that they can find empathy and understanding for those who have had to face horrors in their lives and to try their best to be kind, polite etc, they were running around chatting with the performers thereafter (well j1 and k are. j2 was still working through his feelings, but he was chatting where he could). I am thankful that I was able to talk to them about child abuse in terms that they can understand, without further traumatising them and I hope that I had said enough to help them cope ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and that I have helped them to acknowledge that crying or talking about your feelings is ok, not to be hidden inside too. public or not ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, a very interesting afternoon/evening indeed. Much for Mama and Papa to think about too.

EDIT: It was an interesting thing to me that J2 in the end, quoted a few lines of the poem that I had written for them (which I had given them a print out only recently). I didn’t think it had made any real impression etc.

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3 thoughts on “Talking about child abuse with the boys & My Story Concert (Start Society)

  1. Your children have so much empathy. Not many kids have that. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yes, these are realities of life. Many children who come through Start’s doors have been abused and often, it takes years to heal. But joy is seeing them heal, being able to look us in the eye finally, hear their speaking voice, seeing smiles on their faces. Ya, tell your boys, these children have come a long way. But out there, many are still stuck in an abusive situation..and I guess, we can all do a part for those that happen to come our way. Thank you for coming. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This is what real education is all about isn’t it? The realities of life, and preparing children for them. Preparing young and impressionable minds ahead of time is key to minimising the trauma, insecurity and separation anxiety associated with such sensitive content. Perhaps a warning or advisory from the organisers about the content would have been prudent as it sounds as if you were taken by surprise and your boys were overwhelmed by the horror of it all, but I’m so pleased that you didn’t attempt to hush them up or gloss over what they were seeing as many feel compelled to do. It is boys like yours who become real men because that stark first-hand look through (and indeed into) the eyes of victims of violence, abuse and abandonment is a very powerful source of empathy – that, and the freedom to express oneself (through tears) are the stuff which separate the men from the boys. Good job, Mama.

  3. Thank you ladies ๐Ÿ™‚ It is very real to them at the time, and it would have been better to deal with it together then. I hope they will be good men in the future ๐Ÿ™‚

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