Friday, March 4, 2011

Children Aren't Disposable!

   Yesterday morning I had a heart wrenching conversation with a friend of mine.  She works as a para-pro in her local school district, in the special needs classroom.  Having heard her stories from class, I know that this is an emotionally draining job.  For the past two years she has been in the early elementary classroom.  A thankless job where she essentially does the same work as the teacher, but gets paid much less and her position is perpetually on the chopping block because she doesn't have the seniority of others in the district, (despite the amazing job she has done, and has been recognized for, by teachers and administrators!)
  I listened as she told me the story of one of her students.  This child (and sibling) came to school in the beginning of the year.  Both in a new foster home.  Both had been born to a drug addicted mother.  My friends student is 7. 
  When the child fist came to the classroom, he acted like an animal.  He'd sit in a corner and grunt.  Because, lets face it, that's how he'd been treated.  Social skills were non existent.  But he had a good heart, and he wasn't stupid!  My friend began to work with him, and slowly started making progress.  He began to read.  He began to interact with other children.  His outbursts became fewer.  He began to bond with, and trust his teachers.  Trust doesn't come easy to a child who is bounced around the way he's been.
  One day at school, my friend mentioned the busy morning she'd had, and the breakfast she had prepared for her kids.  The boy looked at her intently and asked, "You make pancakes for your kids?"  My friend replied, "Sure!  I make pancakes for my kids."  "Do you love your kids?" he questioned.  Feeling her heart wrench, she answered, "Yes, I love my kids."  "I want to go to your house for pancakes!"  It was then decided that the following week in the classroom, there would be a pancake breakfast!  At Christmas, a photo album was made for him with pictures of his classroom friends, teachers and the pancake breakfast!  It doesn't seem like a lot, but it was.
  This past week the foster mom decided that caring for this child was too much for her.  She was returning the boy, and keeping the sibling.   My friend asked to say goodbye to the boy,  the foster mom denied the request, saying that they hadn't yet informed the child.  The plan was to bring him to supervised visitation with his mom, and leave.  (Without telling him he would be going to a new home)  When he was done with his visit, new foster parents would take him. 
  I'm not comfortable giving any more details. Let's just say that any more information wouldn't make you feel better.  I think you get the picture.
  These are the questions that ran through my mind... (let me preface by saying I have met some AMAZING foster parents who are in the trenches for all of the right reasons!)  But, have we as a society made it just too easy to walk away from our responsibilities?  Is there no accountability?  We can walk away from a mortgage we've promised to pay.  Companies get bailouts.  And we can even walk away from our kids if it gets too tough!  Have we become that self obsessed?  The ever present "safety net".  Is it helping?  Or hurting?  Has it become too easy to walk away? 
  We've created these safety nets with good intentions, but it's backfired.  You can't pay someone to love someone else.  We don't have to work for anything and we deserve everything!
  My friend was paid to assist in teaching reading and math.  The love she shared, poured out freely from her heart!

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