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Despite how stressful some days feel for me, basically I'm doing okay. Sure we have some busy nights that "require" fast food in order to get everyone where they need to be when they need to be there, and of course I wish I never had a moment of less-than-stellar patience with my children after a long day. There are nights when my husband would much rather sit in front of the computer than read the girls a bedtime story...but he does it anyway.
We are among the lucky ones. Truly.
I am married to a great guy---he makes me laugh every single day and I feel loved and safe and secure in our relationship. We are not yellers nor screamers.
My girls feel safe and secure in our home and in our lives. They know the expectations in our home. They know we will have electricity and running water. They do not know what it is like to go hungry or not have the proper clothing. They know Mommy and Daddy love them unconditionally.
In our house hugs and kisses and I-love-yous are normal. In our house we play and laugh together. We have more books and crayons and drawing paper and writing utensils than you can shake a stick out, and we have bikes and bows and arrows, too.
I do not take these things for granted, nor do I feel superior because of them. We live in a rather modest home, we drive old but paid-for vehicles. It isn't about the money, although I'm grateful to fall into that "middle class" section and not below because I recognize that life is more difficult the harder money is to come by.
With all that said my heart is heavy tonight because most of them don't have those things in their lives. Some of the conversations I've had with my students have been very difficult ones. In the past week alone I've had students who are going through so much in their personal lives---not to mention the inordinant amount of test stress they are feeling this spring as the state exams loom ever-closer.
*Jimmy is exhausted every day because he works from the time he gets out of school until around midnight every night helping out his family. His mother is disabled and his father is in jail. He is 13, and he struggles with school--especially reading, but doesn't have the time to spare to stay after school for tutorials.
*Katherine says she hates to read, but does read the paper every night. She reads it to her mother, who cannot read at all.
*Leo's mother tells him he is ugly and that she regrets ever having him. "You ruined my life," she says. He tells me movies that show bedtime stories are "fake" because "no one lives like that."
*Larissa is worried sick about her father who, on a trip to visit family in Mexico, has been abducted and is being held for ransom. They have 3 more weeks to come up with the required money or he will be executed.
*Shanda ran away with her boyfriend. He is nearly 30. Her friends are worried, and don't know what to think. "This just isn't like her," "She is a sweet girl--she wouldn't do this," "He must have taken her against her will."
Of course all names have been changed to protect the students---but the stories are real. Our kids are hurting. Their lives are stressful.
I have no answers, but a thousand questions.
In the meantime, I will create the warmest, most wonderful library I possibly can. It will be a haven, a safe harbour, a happy place. I will greet my kiddos with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye, and the comforting smells of coffee and books.
If nothing else, I will let them know that this place--OUR library--is strong and steady and true---and that I SEE them. I HEAR them.