~This is the 8th blog entry chronicling my experience as a volunteer at a school for homeless children. I will not identify the children by their given name and in general, I write of composite personalities so that I can best illustrate common experiences among the children without violating their confidentiality and as importantly, the trust of the people who allow me to volunteer at the school.
This is a very late post as I have been busy with life and haven’t been able to find quiet time to reflect and write about these brilliantly funny and wise children.
Last month we were able to take the younger children (5-7 years old) to a hands on private play place. As usual, we loaded up a van and went on our merry way.
As anyone who has ever transported kids of any age anywhere knows, turn up the music and sit back. It took all of about 5 minutes before their absolute favorite song in the world came on the radio and they were singing away…. in Spanish, a language they don’t speak.
Yep, you guessed it. They were in love from beginning to end with the song of the summer, Despacito. We watched through rear view mirrors and reverse facing iPhone cameras as the kids bopped, danced, yelled and clapped together. I can’t find the words to tell you how it makes me feel when they are having so much fun. It’s literally the goal of the program to let these babies find worry free time in their little lives.
Eventually, their singing turned to discussions about their lives and situations. they shared information on the hotels they have lived in, why they liked them, and who else from school (not in the van) also lives/d there. They laughed and cracked jokes and poked fun at each other. It’s probably the most fun part of the trip, for the adults.
Given that it has taken me so long to write this, I have given this day more thought than normal. In fact, school is back in session and because of a running injury, I am unable to volunteer quite yet. But as soon as I’m better you can count on me in one of those classrooms.
Anyway, as we are going back to the school, as often happens, kids have disagreements and arguments, usually much ado about nothing. As we traveled, I heard a change in the tone of the discussion. I turned ever so slightly to see who was talking so assertively, and about what. Just as I turned, one of the younger little girls’ eyes grew wide and she shot me a panicked look as she said, “Oh, teacher, she said something baaaadddd!”
Now I actually heard what was said, and mark my words, there was nothing inappropriate about it. Nevertheless, Mari was convinced that they not only were being rude, but they were insulting her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“They said, ‘You best don’t call Jesus’ buttttttt!!!!'” she yelled as she pointed at the offenders.
The two girls in the seat furthest back stared at me, mouths agape waiting to see what I would say. Then their mouths started to form their response as I started to understand what had occurred.
So much has happened in August in this country that I think yet again, that children are the only wise ones among us, true to their hearts. The two girls were discussing Jesus, his teachings according to their parents, and how people forget to pay him respect and show deference. They were talking about instances when people were mean to each other. They were in agreement that this is wrong. One of the girls said, “My momma told me, ‘You best don’t call Jesus’ bluff!'”
My fellow chaperone and I laughed heartily as we explained to Mari what she misheard. She cracked a shy smile and dropped her shoulders and said, “Oh.” They all went back to singing.
These babies have more compassion and love in their little hearts than many of the grown ups in this country. I’ll leave it at that.
Thanks for reading.