A couple days a month I spend an hour or two at an elementary school in a low-income area, reading to a child.
I’ve been quite a few times now, which has been a very liberating experience for me. I know very little about kids, and feel somewhat awkward in dealing with them. I decided a long time ago I didn’t want any myself.
But, just as a child conquers the monsters in their closet, I shall conquer mine. The more time I spend with kids, the more I seem to like them, and the more I realize I don’t have to know all of the rules- they certainly don’t. And they aren’t corrupted enough quite yet to tell me my way is wrong.
So anyway, today I was reading to a little girl who wanted nothing to do with it. She said she hated reading and she wanted to go to class and didn’t want to be anywhere near me. Eventually, she told the teacher she was done reading and I watched her run as quickly as possible in the opposite direction from where I was standing. I was a cocktail of confused, annoyed and embarrassed. I should be able to hold a 7 year old’s attention for 20 minutes, after all. I loved reading at that age- I used to compete with my brother to see who could read the most over the course of the summer.
But, once the teacher came over and talked to me, explaining that most of these children come from a single parent family where they receive little, if any, one on one time, I saw things differently.
I grew up in a house with both parents, where school was the top priority, where being smart was more important than being pretty. I had chores, I was grounded nearly every other weekend, I did a lot of stupid things, but I always had the security of a stable family, surrounded by people who would quite literally do anything for me.
I’m not sure what the little girl’s circumstances are that I met today- she may come from a family just like my own and was just having an off day.
Even still, today was a very good reminder of how much work my parents put into raising me. I was a lot of work a lot of the time. I’m grateful beyond words for the time they invested in me.