There are so many children out there hurting. They are every where and sometimes people look at them with disgust or thoughts of avoidance. I don’t. Yes my family was poor, but we were never that poor. Think about my village references all the time. I had people in my life that never let my family fall totally flat on their face. Amazing grandparents, amazing neighbors and even more amazing family friends. But the reality is not every child has that. I did. Maybe they were my bootstraps. Maybe I was my bootstraps.
But my point is every one needs boots straps. You know the saying, “You pulled yourself up by your bootstraps.” Well these kids I see walking the halls of my children’s school need bootstraps. Or a glimmer of hope some could call it. Maybe an understanding that it doesn’t have to stay this way or a glimmer of hope that there are people out there that care and want to be their bootstrap, village…place whatever label you want on it.
There is a thing of sadness to sit by a dirty, infested child that needs food. But at that point we have to decide what to do. Do we get mad that it is happening? Who do you get mad at? Do you find yourself suddenly in the line at the bank withdrawing money to provide something? Do you sit back and bitch about poor people that get free stuff because it is all they know? Do you try and blame something or someone? I know I have been all of the above at one time. But really are any of those things offering a solution? Do they make things better for that child?
Nope. The cold hard truth is it is something they have to decide. Given that I have seen them wondering the halls of a public education institution I believe they are in the place that can offer hope and change. But will they realize that? Will they grab those bootstraps and hang on? Especially in the midst of hunger, family despair and possibly many other things I don’t want to think about for a small child. My guess is they have to realize education is the key.
That is not making the decision to be there because you have to. It is making the decision that today will be the day you accept that education and move forward. You look around and realize those teachers, administrators, parents that care are your bootstraps, village and glimmer of hope. They are there for you. To remind you that it can be different. No I don’t expect a tiny 1st grader to get that. But that is why I stay.
That is why I take on the task to help how I can. Because my hope is that they will see they can do it. Statistics are one thing. They try and dictate and predict outcomes but the human…the human holds fate in their hands. I held that fate. I should not have made it. You should not have made it for some reason. We all have our trials. But we did. And so can they.
We just have to decide how to approach this. We can get mad, we can complain that I work for them, we can pretend that our children don’t sit next to them every day or we say, “How can I be the change I want to see in the world (Gandhi)?” I saw this amazing woman yesterday on Ellen. She grew up poor. She barely had enough to eat when she was a child and went to school in the projects. Today she is a principal and she chose to change her course and the course of the students whose lives she touches. She grabbed the bulls by the horns and decided to be their “glimmer of hope,” as she put it, for the students in her school. She never let them have an excuse to not arrive ready. I want that. I don’t know how to get there but I want that.
I refuse to blame these innocent children, who yes may make it hard for us at times, but they did not choose this life they have been given. We just have to convince them they can change their course. How can I do that? I don’t know. But I am there. I was lucky enough that my village wouldn’t let me fall and that my parents always told me I could do better. Can I be that village for someone else? I hope so. I just have to figure out how.