We are both always barefoot. And two nights ago I took a good look at my daughter’s small feet, the pads and toes rosy and pink and fleshy like fruit. But I was pleased to see they were slightly dirty, a little gray-brown. The scrolls of her footprint raised and softly callused – a wee rubber stamp. Rough a bit. Good. A child should have feet that can run. Through grass, gravel, concrete, over the stones and the sticks that fall out of trees on windy nights, break and crack – unseen – in the dark. My feet are this way. Worse. I walk through downtown streets, through downtown nights with bare feet and feel the good texture of sidewalk and alleyway and road. Good. This is how I raise my child well. Gray-brown barefoot. I don’t want her to be afraid of the ground under legs.
I don’t want her to be afraid of anything. I love her.
There are no real ways to describe how heinous child abuse truly is. I can’t do it. I don’t know how to use words in a shape that can put this certain violence in the sharp relief in needs. Not without feeling a little hollow.
But it is through words – her own true ones, at that – that foster parent and advocate, Patsy Giddings, shares the darkness of her experience at the hands of extreme child abuse. With her new book, Sandy’s Miracle, Giddings will bring the trials of her story to readers at The Summit area Barnes & Noble  for a special signing tomorrow, Saturday, May 25th at noon.
Written with the help of John Borgstedt, Sandy’s Miracle tracks the personal journey of Giddings, facing the physical, mental and sexual atrocities committed against her as a child and the spiritual relationship that changed her life through the hardship. Now married, the mother of five children, Giddings uses the adversities of her past to the benefit of other children, opening her home to foster care and volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children. The goal of both her book and her work is to bring much needed care and attention to those suffering and express the personal lessons through her endurance.
I have learned a thousand times that no parent can be perfect. I cannot guard my own child from pain. I cannot promise her that everything is beautiful. I am a parent, and I am not perfect. But I can give her love and gray-brown bare feet and hope she adores the way the dirt feels outside, the concrete, the twigs and stuff – and feels safe. As all children deserve.
The Summit area Barnes & Noble is located at 4100 Summit Plaza Drive.
Image: Courtesy of Amazon.com www.amazon.com