As I write this week’s post, I am waiting for my seven-year-old granddaughter Camille to arrive. I try to spend time with her about once a week, want to establish a strong relationship, know her as she grows into her own person.
And I am thinking about children everywhere as I wait. The news breaks my heart on a daily basis as I hear stories of children killed by guns at school and at home, children with life-threatening illnesses for which their families cannot afford to purchase treatment, children whose families leave them home alone for lack of resources for daycare. And those aren’t even the most prominent stories about children right now. The children our country has separated from their parents for trying to cross into this country as they flee impossible situations elsewhere are on everyone’s mind.
Our country’s policies have brought us to this point. The United States, for all its Bible-thumping Republicans and alleged moral high ground, does not treat anyone’s children well – not those who cross the border to simply stay alive, nor those who already live here. Without valuing kids’ lives more than gun owners’ rights, without holding up education and healthcare for all children (and adults) as the best possible way to create high-functioning happy citizens, without insisting on policies that keep families afloat with adequate daycare and parental leave for everyone, our country has slid to this point of divided loyalties, of everyone for themselves, the “chicken in every pot” idea unfulfilled. There is such focus on what-if outcomes to make people fearful of any change that all sense of welcome and compassion is lost. The Statue of Liberty’s image of welcoming those who come here in search of a better life is not this country’s truth.
I worry for my granddaughter’s future, but as I remember the kids who were at the anti-gun marches right after the Parkland shooting, I know there is some hope out there. Those kids are amazing in their dedication to change, to insisting on sanity over selfish motives. And there is a lot of backlash right now as our government tries to keep undocumented immigrants from having a chance here. I keep thinking about the basic fact that children are the future for the planet, no matter what country, what government, what religion; children move the human race forward.
But only when those children are nurtured. Destroy their families instead and they will not become citizens who successfully take part in any society; they will, instead, become the “other” who acts with the hate and intolerance shown to them when what they most needed was support.
My granddaughter is a smart, sensitive kid. If a disaster happened that ripped her from her parents, it would destroy much of who she is. I am doing my best to be part of the group of adults in her life who teach her strength, compassion, and resilience in the hope that she not only makes use of those qualities to have a good life, but she also passes them on through her actions towards others. I help teach her to welcome the world, not fear it. And to rebuff those who would chip away at her confidence in her own actions when they trot out their fears as facts.
Once Camille arrives on my doorstep, all my writing and news-watching will be packed away for a bit. My time with her is focused on being right in the moment: playing, baking cookies, taking the dog for a walk, listening to music, going outside in the rain, heading to the playground when the sun is out. And I do not forget, not for one minute of that time, that we are incredibly lucky that we can do all those things instead of running away in the night because we fear for our very lives.
If you want numbers instead of emotional writing, try this article from the Pew Research Center about support for children brought to the US by illegal immigrants: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/06/18/americans-broadly-support-legal-status-for-immigrants-brought-to-the-u-s-illegally-as-children/ Pew Research Center’s site has links to many other statistics on topics of interest to people who care about children and families.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.