Saturday, April 2, 2016

Coloring outside the lines

The envelope said MeMe on the front. "What's this?" I asked the twins. Nolan informed me that it was my mail. "You can look at it," he said. "I will help."

Being a parent or grandparent is full of surprises. I used to feel sorry for those who never had children. Or those who had grown children who did not have children of their own. I was wrong. I was terribly wrong. Opportunity knocks.

Did you notice? There are children everywhere. They lurk in the neighborhoods. They reside with family members. Churches are full of them. They are everywhere. Opportunity. The world is full of it.

We all, each of us, have a chance to make a difference in a child's life. Young parents need help in getting their children from one place to another. Someone to watch the little ones. Someone who cares. Children need to have people around them who can nurture them, care about them. I grew up in such a place. The homes of my family members always welcomed me. My Aunt Welma and Aunt Kate made a difference in that little girl who loved being with them. The church women and men were familiar faces and people who paid attention to each of the kids at Painter Creek. Most of all, the neighbors loved me and never failed to show that love. None of these people were my parents, yet they made an impact on my life. I loved...love them with all my heart. I hope to some degree, I impacted theirs as well.

When I worked with teens throughout the 80's, I didn't want to be their parent. I wanted to be a safe place where they could go to talk. Someone who would not judge. A bit friend. A bit parent. A bit counselor. Contrary to what many think, teenagers are the easiest age. They are intelligent, looking for answers, trying their wings. They love to be treated as an equal. So many of them felt alone. They just wanted to be recognized and heard.

You do not need children of your own to receive the blessings that loving a child can bring. They are a gift to the world. We can look for children who need help. Children around the world are hungry, have no family, have no home. Children are abused. The number of foster children is outrageous. Thousands of young girls are lured or stolen into trafficking and a life of pure hell. You need not be a parent to give a parent's love. To stand up for children who have no voice or hope.

Nolan looked on as I opened the envelope. Tiny pieces of paper peppered the table. A scribble from a three year old hand covered each piece. A big piece of pink paper had scribbles from the same hand. Next came a page from a coloring book. Again, the black and white picture was covered with sweet swirls. It occurred to me that we don't need to live within the lines. We don't need to be a parent to make a picture worth saving.

I placed the envelope back where I found it. "I will make you more mail," Nolan said. Oh, sweet boy, I look forward to it.


I dedicate this column to my sister June who taught me to color outside the lines and who brought pure joy into our lives when she adopted Jobi. Thanks, Sis.

No comments:

Post a Comment