Sunday, February 27, 2011

When you smile, those sad eyes look sadder and sadder still

February 27, 2011
On me:
Cardigan: Alloy
T-shirt: Old Navy
Jeans: Dots
Flats: Delia*s
Necklace: Claire's

On the kiddo: no idea!

This outfit was inspired by one of Indiana's. When I saw it I said to myself, "I don't have a leopard print cardigan - but I do have that scary houndstooth sweater and zebra shoes!" Unfortunately my co-worker cut off my feet when she took this photo but you can see those same shoes here.

One of the worst things about being an educator working in programs that specifically serve inner city schools with a large population of "high risk" students is that you can have your heart broken every day. I have met the most wonderful, sweetest kids who have the most awful problems: kids who admit they don't eat all weekend because their parents can't afford to buy food, kids who have to wear uniforms borrowed from the school because they don't have their own clothes, kids afraid to walk home through the neighborhood around their school, kids who tell me about their cousin getting shot in the head, who openly admit to being in gangs, girls who do poorly in school because they have to be "mom" to all their brothers and sisters and little cousins when they get home, girls who are pregnant at twelve and thirteen. Kids who have anger issues, or who are overly touchy-feely, and you have to wonder if it's just a phase or if there really is something deeply sinister going on at home.

All of the typical growing-up problems of trying to find an identity, finishing homework, dealing with bullies and passing tests are exacerbated or even overshadowed by all the other problems that such young people shouldn't even have to deal with. Kids ride their bikes back to the school at 4 PM because they have nowhere else to go that is safe and comforting.

Sometimes they don't have a lot of problems at home, besides their family being poor. But if dad gets laid off or mom can't make the rent, they often have to find somewhere else to stay.

And then they vanish. CPS might scoop them up out of the blue. Or, more likely, they move to a different part of town, to live with a friend or relatives or to go to a "better" school, and you never see them again. You're left with this aching hole in your heart because you loved them so much and you just want to know that they'll be okay.

The little ones just vanish. Their parents don't include them in conversation about moving, they just pack up and leave one day. Older kids usually are told that they are moving, so they can warn me before they disappear. I insisted that this sweet, bright young lady pose with me for a picture last week, because I already knew that by this week, she'd be gone.

I miss her a lot, and I worry. But it just reminds me that I have to do the best I can with the kids I have on a daily basis, because I never know how much time I have to make a positive impact on their lives.

♫: Bat for Lashes - Sad Eyes

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