There’s facing facts and confronting possibilities, and then there’s dealing with truly horrifying circumstances head on—and publicly—as an example to others of the strength of character one can achieve.
In January of this year, it was reported that Richard McCarthy’s 4-year-old son received oral sex on numerous occasions from a 5-year-old female classmate at First Lutheran Church of Carson School. McCarthy’s son wasn’t the only one, and it didn’t just happen on the playground.
The doors were locked and the campus website was suddenly yanked. The school was cited for a lack of classroom supervision and an inappropriate teacher-to-student ratio. The given reason for the school’s abrupt closure was called a lie by parents who were beside themselves with anger. The Department of Child Protective Services jumped over the situation and lawsuits were launched. Then came the cover-up accusations and name-calling, as well as other stuff you can set your watch by, but it was Richard McCarthy we set our admiration on.
Look, there’s facing facts and confronting possibilities, and then there’s dealing with truly horrifying circumstances head on—and publicly—as an example to others of the strength of character one can achieve. McCarthy, at a level of disillusionment and despondency few of us can fathom, exhibited heart-wrenching
On camera, to a local news reporter, he shared that his son had described what the girl did to him and another boy. He added that, though neither child could process the feelings the girl had introduced them to, they both knew they wanted more.
Fighting back tears, McCarthy said of the boys, “They’re still looking for it and trying to make it happen.”
Holy crap! In a single sentence the guy raises and accepts the possibility that his son might be a potential predator, and acknowledges that he can’t risk sending him into a new school. “How else do you explain it?” he replies, when the reporter asks if he really thinks of his son this way. Man, that’s heavy. And damn, that dude’s brave!
Perhaps because he’s completely depleted of energy and emotionally gutted, McCarthy doesn’t ever shake his fists or yell. Absent is the my-son-could-never-do-that
Maybe it’s just that the man is one of those rare, emotionally intelligent people, capable of processing difficult feelings despite having neither answers nor control. How many of us, if put in this position, would immediately demand payback? Fearful of appearing to lack a sense of duty, how many of us would shout a claim of vengeance to anyone willing to listen, let alone jabber about to it an indifferent reporter?
It’s obvious McCarthy is heartbroken and that he loves his boy—describing at one point how he assured his son that he wasn’t in trouble for what we could suspect are early behavioral indicators of sexual abuse. But he admits he doesn’t know what to do.
It would be easy to suggest that he’s playing up the victim role in order to cash in on the lawsuit, but I prefer to see this as a personal bar to reach for, rather than something to point fingers at and be suspicious of.
Because thanks to Richard McCarthy, his son has a good shot at recovery. He also is likely to live a life less dominated by confusion and personal excuses than by the standards of a stand-up guy.
This post originally appeared at Where Excuses Go to Die