It Takes A Village... to raise a child. So, I'm asking bloggers, and in this case friends, from my village to each write a message for me to pass on to my girls. If you'd like to write one, let me know.
This week's letter is by me. Not to my girls, but to you. This is letter about why I started to this series.
I saw a little girl the other day. She was with her parents. She looked sad. Her parents look sad. Her parents were high. They were grubby, smokes hanging out of their prematurely aged mouths. She was filthy. Her hair unwashed, fine mats gathered at the back of her neckline.
They had taken her to Subway, she had a cookie and a coke. She was smiling, but her eyes were not. They were doing their best.
I wondered if they had a network of friends or family supporting them. I wondered if they had long gone and the only friends left were others locked in their own private chemical-induced hell. I wondered if the little girl had someone to look out for her when things got scary. I wondered if she had someone to look up to other than her parents, who obviously adored her, but were out of their depth. They were drowning in their own history, let alone forging a new path for their child.
Being a parent is hard enough at times, without struggling with your own demons or locked in a cycle of a spiralling drug haze. So much guilt. I can only imagine.
Many children are lucky to be surrounded by positivity, not shielded from the realities of life, but protected from the darkness. Many children are fortunate enough to have food and clean clothes every day. Many children have people to read to them and play with them and take them to museums and coffee shops. Many children go on holidays and have a chance to see the potential of the world. Many do not. Many children from different economic, social, ethical, religious, cultural backgrounds who vary tremendously, but share one thing in common - a safe and happy home.
Many children slip through the cracks. Children you encounter at parks and shopping centres eagerly searching for attention and validation. Children who want to be seen and heard. Children who just want to feel safe.
Many children have a village of people looking out for them, inspiring them and showing them the diversity of the world around them. Many children don't have a village. They grow old too quickly, their eyes see things many adults never will. They have grown a thick skin and developed suspicion beyond their years. Many children have never had a chance to be naive. They are born cynical. Many children have already had to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
I think of these children often. I wonder what I can do. If I could open my house to them I would, but I know it's not that simple. I think of children laying nervously in their bed at night, sleeping in their clothes for warmth. Or the children with all the things in the world, but completely disengaged parents. I think of the children, who from the moment of their birth, are crying out for unconditional love. The children who wander around dark houses in the morning, rustling through the cupboards for something to eat. Plonking themselves in front of the television, with the sound down, scared to wake their sleeping parents. Or hiding in their room, fearful of getting in their parent's way. Kids accustomed to empty syringe packets and bongs on the table, the smell of weed a normal part of life, not just something that occasionally wafts through the garden on a summer's night.
I think of the children hit or touched or mentally abused. The children that spend vast amounts of time alone. The hidden children. I wish I could find a way to give them back their childhood.
It takes a village to raise a child and there are many children out there screaming out for one of their own.
Every child is our responsibility.