This week might have been one of the most enlightening and enriching I’ve experienced in quite some time… and it’s all due to an uncanny instinct that comes over me when children are involved.
Starting off rather tumultuously, it all took a turn Tuesday night at my Young Authors class. In the past, the group of rambunctious kids who assemble to write stories they eventually read to their peers has always been a source of joy in my day and week — even when some of their tales borderline frightening. But this night, their stories renewed my faith in positive thinking, and I was immediately reminded of why I love being a volunteer… nevermind the fact that my heart bursts every time they hug me when I walk in the door!
Then Thursday came, and I had the pleasure of working a toy sale in an office filled with new and established mothers who brought in their little ones. The proceeds from the sale would go directly to St. Jude, the hospital that specializes in Pediatric Cancer care. At the end of the sale, I wasn’t sure if I was feeling delirium from starting the day so early, or from the amount of money raised, but my journey home was filled with smiles.
And then came Friday. While temping at an office, I made conversation with an employee who also happened to run a website, Teennewsnet, where young writers that he teaches and mentors contribute to the website. After telling him about the Young Authors, he immediately expressed an interest not only to volunteer for the program, but to speak with our current class to possibly recruit writers. Still on a high from that moment, I ran over to volunteer for Kevin Powell’s annual holiday party. Powell, a well-known writer, activist, and public speaker, has used his influence and connections over the years to bring like-minded people together to promote change and awareness in African-American communities. He has also used what has come to be a well attended event to collect funds and clothing for Safe Horizon, an organization that has been assisting homeless and abused youth and adults for thirty years. Until that night, I was unaware of their existence, but left with a personal goal to contribute my time and whatever resources I can give to assist not only in their cause, but to raise awareness that they exist. (This is about the time I wish I had more readers.)
By the end of the week, it occurred to me that the events of it could very well have been a message I’d been ignoring for some time: that perhaps my calling may be related to children. Why else would every seemingly natural career move fall through? Perhaps my own dysfunctional upbringing has just made me extra sensitive about the environments and information that a young person is retaining their information from. It doesn’t help that I hear reports in the media or stories from my friends who are educators that indicate a need for more adults who actually care about how a child is raised, treated and spoken to, and perhaps recognize that there is, in fact, a correlation between that and the path that child chooses through life… at least those who get a chance at life.
And in this moment, it hits me, everything about this week was about getting a better chance in life. I made tough choices and left my comfort zone in order to find the path that would build a better me, and in the process sought out anything that ensured that a child wouldn’t have to wait until they’re my age to recognize the potential they have for a life they deserve.
As it becomes clearer that the possibility of having my own child may not happen, it just seems selfish to not want to make sure other children in the world don’t benefit from the lessons learned, the mistakes made, and the many experiences and wisdom collected over time.
These days, time is all I have to give, but I’ll gladly give it all if it makes at least one kid aware of how special they are.