GRADUATION!! (Grad School)

Thursday, May 17


The short walk from my house is interesting…..I watch suburbia fade…the tree-lined streets filled with town houses change to gas stations, a 7-11, and then the metro station. Just like that I am on the ‘other side of the tracks’. The streets are lined with lower income apt buildings, doors were open, some with screens some without. Lawns were overgrown and littered with garbage, if there was even space for a lawn. There is yelling and loud music. The walk is short; less then 15 minutes from my porch to the front door.

Upon arrival I am buzzed in by the Thursday night desk volunteer. She is new but so am I so it is okay that she doesn’t know who I am. She directs me to the library to wait for the rest of the volunteers. By 7 pm almost everyone has arrived…5 women and 2 men.

The dinner hour is over; children and adults pour out of the cafeteria. The teenagers are gathered up to go to a 'session,' All we can do is pray it helps with the emotions and fears that are swamping these unlucky teens.....“an ounce of prevention…” Adults head off to a night class in hopes of finding a way out of this place through education. The man with the keys unlocks the gate and the remaining 8 children stream into the cluttered playground. The air is just a little nippy but the kids (ranging in age from 2 to 11) are soon warm from running and playing. Someone produces a foot ball and the older boys play games of Catch and Keep Away. The small boys are content to play on the slides and the jungle gym. The only girls are 2 small, very independent, sisters. The older is probably 3 maybe 4 and she is very talkative. She loves to play with us. The younger is about 2, she doesn’t make a sound for most of the hour. She does not what to be touched but somehow she takes a liking to me. Her name is China and we get along well as she runs around the jungle gym.

When a young boy gets hurt playing catch China immediately goes to his side and remains there, even as he got angry and slugged the walls of the shed. Finally he starts to calm down and China allows me to take her to a table to read books. During Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You China makes her first sound. We have been together almost an hour, and finally she makes the animal noises with me. After that China crawls into my lap and we get comfortable. We read book after book including Where the Wild Things Are, and something about a snow fairy and an Astronaut. Soon China turns and curls up with her head on my shoulder. She begins to chatter away as her eyes droop with fatigue. It is easy to talk to children that young, a lot of unhuh and wow and really. Her big sister joins us and China sits up to be with her, but she doesn’t leave my lap. The man with the keys returns and it is time to go in. Most of the children are completely worn out from the races that were organized at the end of the hour. A quick head count shows we have picked up 2 more volunteers and a couple more children. China refuses to get out of my lap and so I carry her back to the library with her head on my shoulder. Her mother arrives and with a big smile China finally allows someone else to take her. I gather my belongings and promise to return in June.

During the walk home I contemplate my life as it is. There are so many things that I have to be grateful for. There have been so many changes in the last few years. I think the most obvious tonight was the fact that there are no children in my life. I come a large family and am used to small ones running around. But out here I have no access to that, as my nieces and nephews are all in the West.

Until tonight, I didn’t recognize how much I missed it.

No comments: