We were sprawled out on the floor last night laughing so hard my sides hurt, playing cards center, and three other faces staring at me. “She has blue,” one teen whispered as the other two eyed the final card in my hand. Then I slammed down the red in triumph as they groaned, “NOOOO!” and my hands were in the air and smiles on their faces. An hour or so later a small quiet girl shyly giggled as a I bit the head off my marshmallow snow man craft just to see them smile, and at the end of the night I sat with a nine or ten year old who wanted to make sure he made his brother a beaded wrist band. As they filtered out and I said my goodbyes, “until next month,” became a common phrase of reassurance mostly for them - and some for myself.
My friend and I sat there over our beers decompressing and discussing the night and what it meant for practical needs to be met. When I woke up, I drug myself into the shower and then out the door for some time to step back, recenter, and head into another meeting. Before getting in the car a friend, who in the past year became equipped to receive foster children, text me to let me know four children had shown up at their door at 3AM looking for pillow to rest their heads. “Emergency Placement” is the term we use for situations such as these. I prayed and I cried for those babies the entire car ride in.
I think everyone has a justice theme in their life - for me it has always been speaking up for or alongside those others wish to silence. As time passes it has become more of learning how to love people, how to break open this cold and calloused heart of mine over and over so I can meet them where they are. But mostly, it has become about seeing people and all their gifts and potential - and speaking life into them.
That’s why I love working with children - why my journey from a young program developer in a transitional home to an overseas teacher/tutor/volunteer to a nanny has led me to working alongside the foster care system. It is why I want to teach them how community and independence can be found in gardening, cooking, and feeding themselves. It is why at some point foster parenting is an incredibly real and tangible idea for me.
Because my heart belongs to the children. Because I look at my city and I see the harm done to them by oppression and gentrification. Because they deserve the chance. Because one day - they won’t be children.
There are a lot of justice causes, and some we each feel more of a pull towards. But children are not a cause - they are people. And I think that’s what I fight for the most, that I, and you, and the rest of the world who decided to grow up would remember that they are beautiful humans just starting out on this crazy journey of life. And they should have a chance to not only make it, but see their dreams come true and justice roll like a river.
Tonight I feel thankful for such an opportunity to be on this journey. If there is one thing I keep learning over and over as I continue working with and for them, is that I constantly learn more about myself and life from them than I do anywhere else.