As a child caught in the turmoil of my parents’ separation, the world often seems like a giant puzzle where I can’t find my piece. I sit in the background, a silent observer of the battles fought in my name, yet without my voice.
The courtroom, they say, is a place of justice, where the “best interests” of children like me are supposed to be the compass that guides all decisions. But the compass seems broken. The checklist on the wall ticks in favor of everyone else: law firms, magistrates, mediators, psychologists. They all nod, agree, and move forward with a sense of purpose and righteousness. But beneath the checkmarks lies a truth only I can see, a story only I can tell.
My mother, a figure of love turned into a storyteller of woe, weaves tales of a villain. My father, whom I know in shades different than the ones painted in the court, is not the monster in her stories. Yet his voice is drowned out, just like mine, by the narrative she crafts so convincingly. The gavel sounds, and decisions are made—decisions that are supposed to protect me, to foster my growth. But protection feels a lot like being wrapped in a blanket so tight it becomes hard to breathe.
I hear the words “best interests” and wonder if they know what that truly means to me. Do they know about the nights I spend staring at the ceiling, wishing for a morning that will bring peace? Can they understand the language of my silence, the plea in my eyes when I look at those who hold my future in their hands?
The courts, a place where justice is meant to be blind, seem to have turned a blind eye indeed—but not in the way it’s intended. They’re blinded by stories, by biases, by a system that seems to forget that at the heart of it all is a child who has their own story, their own fears, and their own needs.
If I could paint the picture for them, show them through my eyes, I would color the courtroom with questions. I would draw the judges with ears big enough to hear the unspoken, and hearts big enough to understand the complexities of a family torn apart. I would sketch myself not in the margins, but at the very center of the canvas where my place should be.
In this world where adults make decisions that steer the course of my life, I wonder if they remember that I am here, that I am watching and learning. And while the system is meant to protect, I am left with a whisper of a hope that one day, someone will check the box next to “OUR CHILDREN,” truly acting in the best interest of me and kids like me, considering the untold stories that we carry in our hearts.