Where Is the Village

I have spent a lot of my working years working with kids. And most of the time, I have worked with kids who did not have the life we want for kids. I have worked with foster kids, truant kids, criminal kids. I have worked with kids who had homes and went to school and didn’t have a record and still did not have what we want for kids.

And often the kids who I was working with would give me this look or outright ask: “Why do you care?”

And I would say: You know all those stupid bumper stickers and songs and poems about children being our future and how precious they are?

Kid nods.

Me: Well, I actually believe all that crap.

There was not one single time that the kid’s eyes did not change.

Sometimes they smiled and kind of sighed with something like relief. As if to say, “Finally.”

Sometimes they squinted like Clint Eastwood and I knew they heard my caring as a challenge. “Oh, yea? Prove it.”

But my answer never-ever-not-one-single-time did not mean something to those kids. Even to the Eastwoods.


I believe it takes a village.

I was a kid that needed the village.

And I have a lot of examples of the village being there for me. The summer art program leader who let me attend even though I never had the permission slip. The camp counselor who gave me her lunch. The preschool that let me “volunteer” (eg hang out with them instead of going home alone). The extended family that took care of me when my  parents could not. The neighbors who had me over more than what I now know is normal. Mr. Moore in 8th grade who let me soak his shirt with my tears. Mrs. Pearson in 10th grade who talked to me about heaven when church teachings had me terrified my grandfather might not get in. Ms. Matney in 12th who climbed to the very top of the bleachers and told me it wasn’t my fault.

And I have tried to be the village.

But sometimes when I read the news… <Insert various nightmare inducing stories of children being abused and killed here.>

I wonder, where is the village?