My inner-city 1st graders are so hardened to the world. So terrifyingly aware. Those few moments when their child like eyes come out are my favorite.
Too many of their stories start with, “When I was living at the mission….”, “I didn’t get dinner because….”, “My parents keep forgetting my medication…”
My heart is always in a state of distress wanting to be the Hilary Swank to their world. To spend every dime I have to keep them safe and cozy and always with bedtime stories. They don’t get bedtime stories, you see. When I read them stories, they are wide eyed drinking in the pictures, shrilly giggling at my ridiculous voices and quietly mouthing all the rhyming words.
Some of my kids can’t read. Some of them have no confidence and are terrified of being wrong or unable. Some of them don’t get clean clothes because they don’t have washing machines. Or quarters.
I can’t afford to change their lives at home. So I give them hugs. I have plenty to give (even those I don’t like all that much). I have them play with oil and water and glitter and watch as they are tickled by the results. I teach them about recycling in hopes they can help shape their world. And because I’m kind of a fanatic about it.
I laugh at myself when I run into the same shelf over and over because its in the dumbest spot. I let them laugh too. Sometimes I burst into random lines from songs they don’t know just to make them cautiously giggle.
When I see kindness in them, I let them put a little origami star into our Star Jar to show them I value kindness. And they should too.
My favorite part of my day is when they run up and hug me, even after I have had to move their clip down on the behavior chart. When wild and crazy Kane says, nonchalantly,
“Miss V., I really like getting to see you everyday,” and goes back to his work.