I want you to read the title of this entry, maybe one more time.
“The bank took our house.”
Now, are you thinking an adult said those words? Probably. However, these are the words one of my students told me, simply in passing, last week. It was followed by, “…and then we had to live in our car.”
So many things run through your mind in those moments.
Is this child being taken care of?
Do they have adequate and substantial food?
Who and where are the parents?
What are the effects of this going to be for this child in years to come?
And the questions just keep coming. On top of that, the sadness and hopelessness start to sink in, and you find yourself wanting and willing to do anything for this child. Even if they’re one of the behavioral ones; you still want to excuse any “less than good” choices because at this point, you don’t even know if they slept in a bed last night.
Hi. I’m Carla. I moved from lush, affluent Lexington, Massachusetts, to… well, Redding, California. I’m tired of disliking where I live, but I’m also tired of being surrounded by it. Aren’t those two the same things? You would think that seeing and hearing the heartbreaking stories of families here that I would be moved every time, but I have to be honest: I’m not.
I do have those moments where I want to give everything I have to these children because something tells me they are never going to grow up with an understanding of what is beyond their circumstances. They are never going to grow up knowing that being a drug dealer is not an adequate job description on a resume. Or that getting multiple women pregnant before they’re 25 is not “cool” or should ever be commended. Women are left un-empowered because they have to raise three children on a 8.50/hour pay and that’s not even a promising 40 hours a week.
At first, I was in culture shock.
Wait, where are all the BMWs? The Patagonia jackets, and Ugg boots? Where are all the gluten free all organic snacks and lunches for these children? How come there isn’t an ILP or DLP to help children with autism? Or any help for any students? Why are there 30 kids in a classroom when there should be 19-23 max?
Instead, I see teen moms, “dads” who are still showing off tattoos they got when they were 18 (because a lot of them are 19), grandparents who take care of the children because California courts won’t allow the biological parents custody, and the cycle just continues.
“The bank took our house. We had to live in our car for a little while, but then dad said he’s trying to get an apartment so we can all live there…”
“I was really sad when my dad went to jail.”
“I haven’t seen my mom for a long time. Grandma said she went somewhere far away to get better.”
I mean, the list goes on. I am NOT saying that places that boast money, higher education, or anything with affluent nature do not have their own problems. Trust me, I remember them well. Parents who make 200k a year, but don’t even know who their child is, is a whole other problem that occurs when that pendulum swings.
I’m just saying how frustrated and sometimes, hopeless I feel when I am surrounded daily by these faces who are years away from entering the same cycle that was set before them. What am I doing to help them?
Loving them; or at least, trying my hardest. When a child looses a tooth and wants you to celebrate with them, you better believe I do. When all a little boy has seen is a dad who reverts to violence when angry, comes to me in tears and is about ready to knock a kid out… I listen. I offer a solution. I allow that boy to TALK and express his feelings and why he’s upset instead of agreeing to violence. In teaching, you don’t get a practice round. You wake up, you enter the building and you’re ON. You become teacher, friend, counselor, mom/dad, brother/sister and a slew of other things in a matter of a second. I don’t get a nice 30 minute “breather” before I go to work. I get there and there’s already 3 or 4 kids waiting for my arrival. Somedays, I’m JUST NOT feeling it. I’d rather be in a cubicle in a room where no one can talk and all I’d have to do is answer e-mails and drink coffee while I do it. But there are some days, when I’m faced with what I’m faced with, and I need to plead, sometimes, even demand, grace and compassion for these children.
If you think about, pray for the children of Redding, California. For the city, in general. It’s crazy to think that these children are apart of the kingdom. What exactly am I doing to help bring that realization to them?