Thank you for doing something most parents don’t do with a college education, thank you for calling me and telling me in a polite and excited voice that you couldn’t make it to the meeting because you got a job that paid better than minimum wage. I know your a single parent, but when I offered to pay for your daughter’s field trip you said that your job (waiting tables) was giving you extra hours so there was no need. You told me how hard high school was for you and that is why you quit, but you wanted to do more for your children. You said the homework was hard but you try. You want to be a better parent for your children. Your child may come to school with a mismatched outfit on dirt on the face, but she comes to school with clean clothing on their backs and love in their hearts. Thank you for loving your children.....
You told me a story about how the doctor encouraged your daughter to get an abortion because the baby had problems. You told me how you showed up to the abortion clinic with your daughter and you clutched each other’s hand knowing that you couldn’t do it. Your daughter later became a victim to addiction, but you continued to take care of that baby even though you had already raised your children. You went without sleep, your house needed major repairs, you struggled making ends meet. Still you cried while talking to me... telling me how much the school had made that baby grow, how much the school loves that baby, how much you rely on us, how much you love us. We watched that baby grow, and learn, and smile in delight every day.....
You were a parent who would rarely step foot in the school. I was a little scared of you. You talked tough and cussed harder. You later told me how you were teased and placed in a classroom with “slow” children and how you detest school and the way some teachers had treated you. Still, you conquered your fear and realized your daughter was well above grade level. I remember you refused the free Thanksgiving Meal and bag of canned foods for your family because you said you got a weekly allotment of food stamps and that food needs to go to a family who may be hungry. You made me a beautiful handmade scarf for me. You didn’t know how to read well, but you wrote Love and your name.
You work tirelessly day and night advocating for your child with the doctors, the insurance company, schools, strangers, therapists. They say your child can’t, but you know your child can talk, you know your child speaks to you, you know your child feels excited, happy, scared, and hurt. Your child is God’s gift, and while there isn’t a huge sign up sheet with people to help you understand, you work everyday decoding your child’s pain, love, and laughter. You watch other parents every day take advantage of the gift of communication, but you never take a day for granted....
I wish I could write all the stories I know. I wish that people would open their minds and hearts for five minutes, and wouldn’t lump you all together, make assumptions, and rash judgments. Yes there are stories of parents who abuse the system, don't seem to care, and make poor choices with help. It makes me angry to think of those situations.
I remember there are other stories.....ones that people don’t want to hear. I wish that people wouldn't assume "you deserve what you get", "you made these choices", "your a free loader". I wish your stories were on the television instead of political ads, I wish those dollars were in school working for you, I wish that all of God’s people would come out in droves for your children the way they do when protesting a cause. I can't imagine the challenges that you fight against.
Thank you for inspiring me to be a better parent and person.