I heard a troubling story on the radio about families in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala sending their children to USA for safety and care. http://nydn.us/1l5GNno Some of the children have special needs and illnesses but all are simply in need of nurture, care and safety. Our friend, Salvador is from there, his mother still lives there? Things are not good in El Salvador right now. Children are recruited into gangs and find the daily pressures on the lives of children unbearable. Coyotes, people who take people to a new place to live for money, are paid hugh-normous fees to pack the children into vehicles and take them into Nogales, Arizona. Then what? They are sent to temporary shelters, placed in US foster families or with guardians and wait for deportation. But with tens of thousands of children arriving, there is not enough food, shelter, water or safe spaces for the children of all ages. I can hear them, see them as the radio story continues, adding that some of the children were actually born in the US but parents are not eligible for citizenship. These are our children. (They all are our our planet’s children, us.) I feel myself getting deeply affected, saddened, worried, and angry. We feel powerless when we don’t help, yet the US spends money to build new prisons, send fancy weapons to outlying regions as we wage was for oil…? Yet we can help these children to safety? A refugee camp for children with trained and educated caregivers, teachers, medical care and places to play and help with growing food? How much does that cost? What are the border patrol doing with their time? OR Me with mine?
Yesterday I picked up Liza after her last day of preschool and thought about the young Nigerian women who had expected to take a physics exam that morning of their kidnap. I thought about Liza’s little paper mortar cap and the photo book, portfolio of her work and the promise we all felt on this day, a transition, one that we know leads to so many other special days like this in her life full of promise. The Nigerian teen women meant hope for their country, doctors, teachers, brilliant women for Nigeria’s future. Like you and Liza do for our country. She will someday do great things, as will millions of other preschoolers at their end-of-year celebrations all over our country today, next year and the next. We expect little Liza will be smart, capable and safe. Nigerians can’t assume any of this about their daughters. They are taken, sold as wives, slaves and they say nobody can stop this. Tht cannot be true. We have to.
There are so many awful things we say we can’t stop but we have to…the plastic scraps in ocean currents on far away beaches from our organic lettuce and fresh berries baskets
our gun laws
But wait, I know Liza just finished preschool and you are done today with first grade. But be readied kids. There is so much to do. I was overflowing with sense of frustration, burdened with the problems of the world and switched the radio off and CD player on listening to Vicki Coffis singing Save the Whales….and remembered the tiny bit of progress we have made in some areas. We nearly saved those whales. I breathed deeply to cleanse my air from the toxic thinking and opened the windows to the chilly fog and went to get you in your classroom. On the way home we sang with Vicki, “Got to make the world a better place….la, la, la (raggae)…. wars on our shoulders, yea…”
I asked you what you’ll always remember about first grade. You tell me and your sister, I’ll always remember Ms. Herd. I will always love this teacher.” Liza reminds you that you will have a different teacher next year and that she will have Ms. Herd. “Well,” you tell her, “you better be ready to work really, really hard, Ellie.” You continue. “You have to be honest, kind and never hurt any living thing.” “You can never never fight or steal things from kid’s cubbies or take things out of other kid’s lunches.” You breathe deeply with an air of importance. I ask if there are other things you’d like your sister to know.
“You better learn to read or a special teacher comes and takes you away from class.”
“You have to clean up everything and do your work that she tells you. Don’t try to do a different thing like art or reading a fun book. You have to do exactly what they say. No choice.”
It’s not like preschool, just play, play, play all day. Its work and sometimes you will cry about it.”
Liza picks at her nose.
“There are really good rules. Always follow them. Or the police might come.”
“Police?” 4 1/2 yr old Liza asks, incredulously.
“It’s not for jail. Its to make sure you know it is serious. You go the the principal’s office if you steal things.”
“What does the principal do?” asks Liza, planning ahead.
“How should I know? I never went there. But I think she makes you listen to her for a long, long time. She can’t make you go to your room or anything. It’s just mad talking, I think. And that’s bad.”
“Oh, and you shouldn’t bring bad food in your lunch. I mean only healthy stuff and not litter. Its better for the environment.”
“I know,” says Liza. “What else?”
“If you read 25 books you can choose a stuffy out of the bin.”
“Oh, if you want to draw you can’t, unless its time.”
“Oh, except sometimes you can’t go to the bathroom either during work time. That’s a stupid rule. Isn’t it?”
“I guess I’ll pee my pants,” says Liza. I bet she will, too. Don’t you?