Monday, September 30, 2013

Carrying Matches

Teach us to always carry matches,
to light every candle we find.
They are key witnesses to the dark.
From here.

This post was originally written as a rant that I decided not to publish, and then this morning I read a poem over at the beautiful due, and a reframing happened.

So I was at the rink today - we are the rink most days. After B's game, as I was waiting around for him to emerge from the dressing room, and reading a book, I noticed two little girls being very loud, at the open area just inside. I looked up, but they seemed to be shrieking in delight, so I let them continue.

And then one of them started hitting the other and I heard phrases like "if you want it harder, I can hit you harder" and then the toys and books that are there for kids to look at started getting thrown around. I had been standing there for several minutes and no other adult had come by. Every so often I looked at the knots of adults standing in the restaurant talking but none of them seemed to be paying any attention either.

I looked one of the little girls in the eye and said "You need to stop treating these things this way. If you can't play here nicely, perhaps you need to be somewhere else." She looked at me for a moment and then walked through the swinging doors to another open area, which also seemed to be strewn with toys and books.

The other little girl looked at me to see what I would do next. As kindly as I could, I asked "Where's your Mom?"

"Oh" she said cheerfully "Today is a not a day that we get to see our Mom." And then she rattled more details about visitation and such and I looked at her and the mess they'd both made and I said "Somebody needs to clean these books up. How about you pick up two and I'll pick up two and then we'll see how many are left?"

So we chatted as we worked and I wondered who she was there with and an older boy showed up, hovering on the periphery of our conversation, and I asked if he was their brother.

"Nope", he said, a little grumpily, and I asked if he knew them.

"Yes he does!" the little girl I was cleaning up with said, so I kept guessing. Uncle? cousin? friend? Dad? He cheered up at that guess and told me "We're all in foster care."

I stayed with them chatting with them until another child came running up to tell them they were going now, learning their names and ages and favourite colours.

Teach us always to carry matches.


stephen t berg said...

Wonderful story, wonderfully written.

Anonymous said...

You demonstrated that little people are important...and I'm wondering why they weren't as important to the people who brought them into this world, eh? Sad. I hope they find more good people - like you!