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A Child Called It: Reflection on The Good and Bad of Abusive Childhood

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A Child Called It is a memoir based on Dave Pelzer’s abusive childhood. Pelzer was both psychically and mentally abused by his alcoholic mother. It begins on March 5, 1973, in Daly City, California. David had been late to school that morning after suffering a beating for not completing his chores on time. Catherine tells David to tell them he “ran into the door.” David ends up in the nurse’s office, being examined and interrogated by the school nurse. The nurse has known for a very long about David’s ongoing situation at home with his mother. It took him time to open up to her about his abuse, but the nurse had been his safe haven for a while. The school staff has all become aware of his beatings and they have also learned not to report bad behavior to his mother because they know that she will punish him. After a short talk with the nurse, his teachers, and his principle, a police officer escorted him to the police station. David was scared at first because he genuinely believed he is going to jail, but then he realized that was better than living in the madhouse that was his mother’s home. The police officer comforts him with the reassuring words “David Pelzer, you are free.”

Dave now reflects on the good times he had experienced early in his childhood during the 1960s. During this time it was just him and his two brothers, Ron and Stan. Their father, Stephen Pelzer, was a firefighter who worked very long shifts and their mother, Catherine Roerve, was a loving and devoted woman whom he adored. They had many pets including cats, dogs, and aquariums filled with fish and a tortoise. Mother always had amazing cooking, but Dave knew she prepared the best meals on nights his father was home. The family never had a Christmas tree that was under 8 feet. They would put much effort and time into decorating the tree and their home. After the decorating was done, the whole family would drive around comparing the neighbor’s houses to their own. Stephen often worked twenty-four-hour shifts, and because of this Mother would often take Dave and the boys on day trips. These trips, Dave remembered, were often to Gate Park in San Francisco. For Dave, springtime meant family picnics. Mother would prepare a feast for the whole family to enjoy. These were things Dave remembers as the happiest times of his life, but his favorite place in the world is the Russian River. Each day was a new adventure when they visited the river. He felt the safest and the warmest when he made memories with his family at the river.

As time progressed, Dave’s mother began drinking more to the point where she started acquiring the qualities of an abusive mother. Discipline was now brutal punishment. Mother brutally beats Dave, seriously hurting his arm. She takes him to the hospital but claims that he had rolled out of bed. He was too afraid to speak up, but he sensed the doctor knew his injury was not caused by an accident. Mother was constantly making up stories to account for the bruises and injuries on Dave’s body and would often refer to Dave as a “bad boy.” Dave did everything he could to try and earn the approval of his mother. He was a good student, with more “happy face” papers than anybody in the class, but his mother still made him repeat first grade. By now, Dave knew his mother was not as harsh when his sibling and his father were present. However, Stephen did not do much to protect Dave. He was well aware of the abuse, but he did not have the courage to go against Mother’s authority.

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A Child Called It: Reflection On The Good And Bad Of Abusive Childhood. (2021, May 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 16, 2021, from
“A Child Called It: Reflection On The Good And Bad Of Abusive Childhood.” GradesFixer, 31 May 2021,
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