My dear Make Words Matter family.
This post is not like my usual, uplifting messages (at least at first glance). In fact, this post may be more than you want to imagine is true in our communities right now. That’s okay. Please do not feel bad if this feels prickly. Trust me…I have felt all the feels about this in the last 24 hours.
But. I know for sure there are children out there who fit these descriptions. I have seen them. I have known them. I have loved them from across the therapy room. And while my time with them was not during a time of coronavirus crisis, it was during a similar time of despair specific to their family’s situation.
I pray you will be moved by this. As I have been in sharing it.
The overwhelming loneliness
Last night, I was kept awake by the overwhelming heaviness of knowing somewhere there is a child, many children, too many children… living in this quarantine alone.
Somewhere there is a child who lives with a parent or parents who cannot fully care for that child because the fear and hopelessness of COVID-19 has caused them to relapse. To turn to drugs and alcohol to cope because that is the only way they know how. And all that is left of that child’s parent is the shell of a person they once knew as mom or dad. That child has become independent and self-reliant, though for his 8-year-old brain, he simply cannot fathom why things have gotten so bad again. He cries at night wondering if they will wake up from “sleeping” on the couch. If he should run out into the unknown of the nighttime sky. If there will be enough food for tomorrow. He is so terribly alone.
Somewhere there is a child whose parents were simply not ready to be parents themselves. And so when they become stressed, they turn to anger, hatred and shame outbursts toward anything nearby. They hurl insults and curse words, gut-wrenching shame-filled words at that child who simply made a mistake in the kitchen. The smallest mistake has now lead to a verbal war between parents and a child who begs them to stop. He scurries behind the table to avoid the glass that has been thrown in his direction before running out into the cold with tear-stained cheeks. He is so terribly afraid.
Somewhere there is a child and her single mother who just 3 weeks ago left the most abusive boyfriend yet. As they escaped the man who hurt them daily, they lean on one another for comfort from the cold. Crashing on friends’ couches and scrounging for food wherever they can. The mother knows free food is available for her daughter from the school’s food program, but because of transportation issues, she cannot gain access to this invaluable resource for both of them. Life has always been hard for them. And now that she is five years old, this child feels like she can carry some of the weight of her mother’s troubles. Right after dinner, she falls asleep on the hard floor from sheer exhaustion. She is so terribly tired.
Somewhere there is a child whose parents have been working paycheck-to-paycheck since her birth 12 years ago. She has 4 younger siblings, all of whom relied on the daily structure and support of teachers to make academic growth. The family has one laptop computer that was gifted to them from a friend 6 years ago. Although she knows e-learning is happening, her parents are rarely home and she is often left in charge to care for her siblings. Their daycare closed, and as minimum-wage essential workers, they simply cannot afford to stay at home, or hire a sitter. There is no wifi. There is no cable television. There is some food, but certainly not anything for a “balanced” meal. She is so terribly hopeless.
Pray, remember, honor.
My dear friends. I share this with you to help all of us (myself included!) to remember that not all children are loving the extended time at home. Staying at home could be the most hopeless requirement for children we may never know. They do not want our pity. They do not want us to feel sorry for them. They just want to be kids.
I pray for our children who don’t get to be fun-loving and light-hearted today. I hurt for our children who have been required to grow up way too fast. I hope for our children who have resiliency that I probably have never experienced. I dream of a day when they can run and play outside with friends without a care in the world.
Please join me in honoring these children and their families. Check in on your neighbors and their children. Risk the uncomfortable to do the vulnerable to reach any kids you may know. Our kids need all of us.