I am pushing to take care of a child this weekend; and not one of my own. I am desperately trying to take this child into my world to see if she recognizes it. Does she recognize concern? Does she know compassion? Does she feel wanted? I don’t know the answer to these questions, and my heart is literally beating out of my chest to know.
I recognize, somewhere, that there are children that are abused, there are children that are neglected. And I know that there are children who are taught that they are not a priority, they are not of any concern, and their wants, their needs are subservient to the ones that are supposed to love them. I know that there are children who don’t feel what my children are given so easily; I know there are children who don’t know how very, very important they are.
There are as many reasons as there are neglected children. There is the one I run into frequently; the child is ignored by the parent out of selfishness, youth or even simple laziness. This is the child that is fed, that is housed, but isn’t told to follow dreams. This is the child that is clean on the outside, but so gray on the inside. These are the children that are forgotten in the absolute misery and craziness of life. The parents who raise them aren’t beating the child, they aren’t necessarily even harming the child, but they aren’t giving to the child all that is possible in this world. And that I simply can’t handle.
I don’t know the whole story of this child; I don’t know the details of her home life. I don’t know if anyone sits down and plays with her, or teaches her how to live a life. I don’t know if she is ignored or listened to; and I don’t know if the child has ever attended a carnival just because it sounds fun for them. I don’t know the story; but I am compelled to find out.
I need to know if this little girl acts out because she has no other choice. I need to know if this child knows what to expect from someone taking care of her. I need to know if this child has rules, has boundaries. I need to know that this little girl is loved completely.
The parents in question, which is another convoluted story, are giving me their child without knowing where I live. They are sending me this child without understanding what we are going to do, without meeting my children, without ever shaking the hands of my husband. The parents in question don’t seem to be worried about a car seat, or what soap I use, or the thousand other details that I control for my own children. And this child is four, which means there are a myriad of things that she doesn’t know if is even allowed. How do you let your child just go?
I think beyond my need to know, is my horror that these parents have no problem giving her to me. It says something to my bleeding heart. It says something to the mother in me. And I don’t know if it is my gut, which I trust speaking, or my heart which I never trust that is telling me to run full throttle to this little girl.
I am sure that my husband will roll his eyes, and call me a ‘bleeding heart’. I am sure my children will take in stride. But I also know that I have to; I am compelled almost as strongly as I am compelled to breathe. I have to know.
And what will her parents being doing while I am watching their child? They will be having a birthday party for themselves; a party they would never invite me to much less their daughter. They will be enjoying the weekend quiet and the weekend choices, much as they do every weekend. They will enjoy each other, because they will have the space to do it. And is this wrong? For one time, I would even encourage it; but all the time, it just breaks my heart.
But there is nothing I can do, except encourage her parents to give me their child for the weekend. There is nothing I can do, but hold this child if they give her to me, and show this child that which every child should know. And if I am wrong, I will kneel down gladly, and scream thank you.
Please let me be wrong, and let this be a normal child. Please let me misunderstand the situation. Please let me find out that this child is loved and cared for as deeply as she deserves. And let me find the innocence of acceptance in her eyes. And let me find a heart not bruised by a reality she is too young to understand. Despite all that I feel, this I wish more than anything else.
Until I know, I will push where I rarely ever push. Until I know, I will wait with baited breath for the truth. Until I know, I will simply pray.