People who extort others to walk in Kelli Stapleton’s shoes make me roll my eyes.


Leaving aside the fact that it ignores the fact that we really should be trying to walk in Issy’s shoes, since she’s the one whose mother tried to kill her, I have walked in shoes very close to Kelli Stapleton’s. And I didn’t hurt anyone.

Short version: My mother decided she wanted foster kids. One such foster kid was very violent. More than Issy is claimed to be even by the worst attempts at painting her as the villain. My mother, claiming mental health, abdicated carer responsibility for this kid and forced it on me when I was 14 rather than, y’know, asking social services to place the kid elsewhere for mental health reasons like a responsible parent. So I was dragooned into acting teen mom for an extremely violent special needs kid for a few years, a duty I shared with my younger sibling.

You do not want to know the shit that kid did to me. I doubt you’d believe some of it if I told you. Suffice to say it tops anything I’ve ever seen in the self-martyring “mommy blogs” out there, I have scars, I still have nightmares, and glimpsing someone who looks like the kid on the street can make me break out in a cold sweat and start shaking.

And I never, not once, harmed that kid. I restrained the kid when xe came at me with weapons and tried to kill me in my sleep, and I cursed in fear, but that’s it. I didn’t hit hir. I didn’t emotionally abuse hir. I didn’t call hir a monster or spread horror stories about hir by name on the internet. And I didn’t try to kill hir. I won’t even identify hir gender, age, ethnicity, or social background here because xe has more than enough on hir plate as impediments to building a happy life without me piling on more shit just to satisfy my urge for revenge (… and I do have it, I admit. I will never act on it, but I do admit that I hate my parents, social services, and that kid for stealing my adolescence and forcing me into a years-long fight for survival. I will never, ever try to ruin that kid’s life, though, because I recognize that someone should not have to be held accountable their whole life for actions committed in grade school, however abhorrent those actions may have been).

I should have never been forced to parent that kid. It scares me that I might have been the best parent that kid ever had, when I was still a kid myself and had no fucking clue what I was doing and had all my attention on not dying.

So fuck you and your, “you just don’t understand how stressful it is to deal with a kid like that!” Fuck you. I do understand. I’ve been there, as a teenager with a mother who would watch TV 16 hours a day and a father who only came home to rant, throw shit, and threaten to destroy all of my things because I hadn’t managed to clean the house and cook his fucking supper while I was fending off this kid’s violence and 4-hour tantrums every day and dealing with bullying at school. I had more on my plate than Kelli Stapleton with less help and less life experience.

Forget being at the end of my rope, I was two feet under it and falling fast. And yeah, I developed mental health problems in that situation, some of which I still deal with. Who wouldn’t?

Yet, somehow, I managed to not try to kill a child. It’s almost like I realize it’s wrong to do that.

It’s almost like I realize it’s wrong.

13 thoughts on “It’s almost like I realize it’s wrong.

  1. bjforshaw says:

    I can’t begin to imagine what you went through but I have such respect for your strength in upholding your principles and retaining your integrity and humanity through such trauma. I feel most humble.

    • ischemgeek says:

      It’s not about upholding principles, it’s about realizing that no matter how stressed and upset and in over the head I am, that does not give me the right to intentionally hurt other people in a premeditated manner.

      I’m not superwoman. I’m nobody special. I don’t deserve admiration or lionization for surviving a shitty situation. That’s exactly my point: I was a very ordinary kid with, if anything, more excuses to snap than Kelli had. And there’s a hell of a lot more people who were stuck in situations like mine who manage to not kill anyone than who become Kelli Stapletons, is my point.

      Sorry, but I’m uncomfortable when people praise me for just surviving. I’m nothing special. People survive a lot worse than I did without becoming child-killers.

      • autisticook says:

        It’s uncomfortable getting praised for something that you feel should be the norm, isn’t it? Like not killing people. We don’t go around congratulating the supermarket guy or the girl who delivers the mail for not killing anyone. (And to be fair, we don’t know if they haven’t). But I still think that we can celebrate the resilience of anyone who’s had to deal with tough situations and who didn’t end up harming someone else. It doesn’t matter how tough it was on an objective scale of tough shit. In a world where it seems everyone’s first instinct is to lash out at others, it takes guts to overcome that instinct, even if it’s as simple as not yelling at the customer service person because you’ve had a shitty day. So. You’re special. Deal with it. 😛

      • ischemgeek says:

        I can’t.

        Because accepting kudos for it or accepting that people want to call me special, I feel, accepts the narrative that murdering your kid is somehow understandable if the kid was disabled or otherwise difficult.

        I don’t know how to articulate this well because I’m obviously failing at getting my point across, but… I think there’s a difference between celebrating that someone survived a shitty situation, and celebrating that someone didn’t hurt others in the situation. I can tolerate someone saying, “Kudos for surviving that,” even if it makes me uncomfortable. I can’t tolerate, “Kudos for not murdering someone,” because murder is wrong 100% of the time. Killing another is only excusable if they’re about to kill you or someone else and you do it unintentionally in trying to get away or protect someone else. But murder? Murder is never excusable.

        Accepting kudos for not murdering, to me, accepts that Kelli Stapleton’s attempted murder of her daughter was somehow excusable. It wasn’t.

      • bjforshaw says:

        There are different ways to handle difficult situations, some good, some bad. I’m drawing conclusions here from very limited information but… sounds like your mother effectively washed her hands of the problem, your father got angry, and you persevered with what you saw as your duty — and even though, as you wrote above, you hate the kid and harbor vengeful thoughts YOU STILL REFUSE TO DO THEM HARM. That is what I meant by principles. I am sorry you feel uncomfortable with my praise but I believe that one fact does deserve admiration.

      • ischemgeek says:

        OH, I understand you now, bjforshaw. I was misunderstanding what you were talking about, because of the “people who don’t murder their kids deserve admiration!” narrative surrounding these cases.

        I can accept that, even if it does make me a bit uncomfortable. You’re not saying “you deserve admiration for not killing the kid,” you’re saying, “you deserve admiration for refusing to indulge your petty and vengeful side,” which is okay. I can accept that, I think.

      • autisticook says:

        I think I understand what you’re getting at now, with the difference between surviving = yes and killing = no. Still. Issy’s mother failed to be a parent to her child. You didn’t fail to be a parent to your mother’s foster child. Even though you weren’t supposed to be the primary caregiver. Whereas Issy’s mother was. Maybe I shouldn’t compare the two. But I still think that only punishing the ones who do harm and not acknowledging the ones who don’t… that feels like my childhood where only the troublemakers got attention, and being a good kid got you ignored.

        I know I’m belabouring the point on something that is so emotional for you. I’m sorry about that. Maybe I should shut up now. Sending you strength and virtual tokens of appreciation and affection of your choice.

  2. autisticook says:

    I want to comment but I’m afraid I’d be overloading your comments section with profanity.

    Can try to summarise with what you went through was wrong. Falls short of what I feel. And I can say I’m stunned that you survived and have such integrity and that falls short of what I feel too.


  3. notesoncrazy says:

    I know that my post on this subject probably sounded a lot like “but you can’t understand how stressful it is” or something similar, and I am guessing that if you read it, it probably pissed you off considerably. If I couldn’t be clear in my post, I want to be as clear as possible to you directly, because you deserve it.

    What you went through sounds like utter hell, and I have to be in the camp of “kudos to you for surviving it.” Will I say “way to go for not killing the kid?” Uh, no. Because you are absolutely right that that is not something you congratulate another person for. Just…DUH don’t kill other people. It shouldn’t be that hard, right?

    When I say that you [generically, not you specifically] can’t know/understand the complexities of this case, I certainly don’t mean that no one understands what it’s like to care for a difficult or violent child. It sounds like you understand all too well, which is just heartbreaking considering how old you were and how it was completely not up to you.

    So walk in Kelli Stapleton’s shoes? Yeah, fuck that. Far too many people have walked in her shoes way farther than she has. And people do it every damn day without hurting anyone – including themselves.

    What I mean is that legally – and I mean legally and pretty much in no other way – we shouldn’t jump to defend or accuse this woman without allowing her due process and all that bullshit. I am definitely NOT going to harp on that here, because it is SOOOOO not relevant.

    What that woman did was horrendously revolting and inexcusable. And the idea of sympathizing with her is not only baffling to me…I think it’s incredibly disrespectful and invalidating for every person out that who has cared for someone and had a hard time and been a decent human being in the end.

    I want to remember and respect that she could be found criminally insane…but that does not mean she isn’t a criminal. Having a reason does NOT mean having an excuse. Oh, and that doesn’t mean I want to try to respect her, just the legal system.

    I chose to leave up my post on my blog despite it being…I don’t know, less than understanding? But this is your blog, and I hope you will delete this comment if you find it at all inappropriate.

    • ischemgeek says:

      No, I wasn’t talking about your post.

      I was talking about crap that’s posted in pretty much every comment section of newspapers talking about this case and the Alex Spourdalakis case and similar cases, where people will literally say that you can’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in Stapleton’s shoes. And how it’s all about services. And how it’s understandable. And making Issy out to be the villain. That’s the type of talk I was picking a bone with here.

  4. autisticook says:

    Ischemgeek, I owe you an apology. HUGE apology. Here I am saying that I need to validate more because I tend to disregard people’s feelings before launching into my “this is right and this is wrong” mode. And look. You said you were uncomfortable and what did I do? I told you to deal with it. Jesus. *facepalm*

    • autisticook says:

      Like. Not only disregarding your thoughts and feelings, but actively telling you how to feel. I’m such an ass sometimes. I’m really sorry.

      • ischemgeek says:

        I have a tendency to get too self-deprecatory and hard on myself, so partly you reminded me of people who tell me not to hate on myself so hard when I’m self-pissed, so I wasn’t too PO’d at it. I was guessing that it was coming from a similar place.

        I do appreciate the apology, though, because it was pretty uncomfortable because in this situation, I don’t think I’m being self-hatey and because reasons I said above. If you see me getting all self-hatey, feel free to tell me to stop it because sometimes I need someone outside of me to tell me not to disproportionately beat myself up over stuff.

        Thanks for the apology.

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