Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Worrying for the Little Ones

Sigh. I love the kids at my elementary school, I really do, but sometimes I worry for them. When they come in with dried blood on their noses, wearing torn and dirty clothes, I wonder who takes care of them. When I see little seven year olds hoard their snacks because it is the end of the month, and their family's food stamps have run out, I wonder what happened to all of that food. When a little boy comes to school with bloody, wind-blistered hands, I wonder who watches over him, and makes him put on his gloves. I wonder. And I worry.

Eventually, you just have to give up the worry. That doesn't mean that you don't give out extra snacks on Fridays, so that the little kids will have a little more food over the weekend, or that you don't hit up Goodwill and clearance sales for spare gloves and coats. It means that you realize that worrying won't solve any problems. There's prayer, and referrals to food banks. There are mandated reports over suspected cases of abuse and neglect (no, not every time---kids can be boisterous and fall and wreck their clothing and get plenty of bumps and bruises. It's only when it happens day after day and week after week. It's only when their excuses don't make any sense, and there's a new boyfriend at home, or their mother runs out food stamps way too early in the month for it really to have been spent on food and not traded for alcohol or drugs).

If you just keep worrying, you'll go crazy, and everyone knows that a crazy teacher is no good for the kids. Sometimes it's just time to remember that you're doing all you can, and pray for the rest of it. Send some prayers this way.

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