It is March 5, 1973, and David is in the school nurse’s office. He is answering questions about his mother again, and soon the principal enters the room. The young boy is afraid because he knows when his mother hears of this meeting his life will be even more miserable. Then a police officer arrives, and David is even more afraid. Information is shared, questions are asked, and the kind officer takes David to the police station. The boy is relieved because if he is in jail his mother cannot punish him for what he has told them. When the officer dials David’s home phone number, David is paralyzed by fear, but the officer reassures him it will be okay. “David Pelzer,” he says, “you’re free.”
A Child Called “It”
From his home in Daly City, California, Dave can see the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. He, his two brothers, and his parents are living as a perfect, television-worthy family. Dave’s father is Stephen Joseph, a strong and rather playful fireman; his mother is Catherine Roerva, an average-looking woman who “glowed with love for her children.” During the good years, the family does things together and mother happily prepares special meals, outings, and surprises for her sons. Holidays, from Halloween through Christmas, are the most special times for Dave and his family. Mother takes her children on special outings when Father is working, and the family goes on vacations, which are fun and memorable. Their trips to a cabin on the Russian River are the very best of family life for David. There are occasional signs of some manic behavior in his mother, but Dave is too young to recognize them as anything more than moments of frenzy and franticness. In all these moments, Dave’s mother treats him with warmth and love. At some point, though, things change.
Dave is perpetually being punished. His voice is a little louder than his brothers’ voices, and he is almost always the brother who gets caught in mischief. Dave is relegated to a corner of his mother’s bedroom and knows better than to ask to be released. His mother’s behavior grows erratic. She often sleeps through her days, getting up only to prepare minimal meals or to get herself another drink. On the days when Mother gets up and dressed and even wears makeup, David knows his life will be easier. On the other days, though, the young boy tries to avoid...
(The entire section is 3520 words.)
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