I remember back to school time while I was growing up. It was magical. All the new things for the new year. Crayons, backpacks, shoes and clothes. For kids with not much “new” in their lives throughout the year, my siblings and I loved the free reign to shop. There was some heartache in this time too. We couldn’t get the coolest clothes or the best sneakers. Five Star notebooks were out of the question and we only got character branded backpacks the one year that our dad took us school shopping.
At some point in high school I realized the heartache that my mom felt at back to school time. She worked so hard but back to school time was definitely the wrong time for a single, hourly wage earning, mother of three children. All summer long she had found childcare for us, fed us meals that were free when we were in school and paid for activities so we weren’t too bored. And right on the cusp of relief from that financial burden, she had to come up with the money to get all that new for us. She was aware enough to know that we wanted something special. We wanted the cool things that our friends had. We were aware enough to not ask too hard for things that we couldn’t have.
Becoming a parent really opened my eyes to what my mom did to make ends meet. Kids are expensive, you guys. There isn’t enough help out there for all the things. So I vowed that I would help. I have enough to help and I should. This year school supply shopping time rolled around and I was busy and Jack and I were balancing a new budget so I decided to skip it. Not this year but definitely next year.
Then the tragedy in Charlottesville happened. On top of what I was already feeling about the bombing of the mosque in Bloomington, MN. So many feelings. I looked at the pictures of the white men outwardly showing their hate in Charlottesville streets and thought about what could make that hate grow in their hearts. How did I come to truly want to love and help everyone (I’m by no means perfect but that is my intent) and they just have hate?
This is speculation. I am not a psychologist or sociologist but in all the tragedies over the years that have made my heart ache I come back to one principle. I keep returning to the fact that somewhere along the line these people didn’t feel loved. They didn’t feel part of a community. They were lost and they turned in on themselves and projected hate.
There are a lot of different ways to help when you feel helpless. So many organization are fighting hate and they could use support. If one child doesn’t feel alone or inadequate or not part of the community. If they have what it takes to learn in school. If they see people loving and helping. Then maybe they won’t turn to hate. School supplies are not going to save the world themselves. But they will mean everything to some child who is truly born to learn and born to love.
So we found the time and the money and we went school supply shopping. Elodie is only three and she can’t and, really shouldn’t, understand the bigger picture but she understands giving. She understands that not everyone has what she has. She picked out every item on the school supply list. Complete with at Disney Princess backpack. And when I said that some little girl will love all of this, she reminded me that maybe it could be a little boy. My heart swelled right there because even when I am not perfect and I am not right (why couldn’t a little boy love the Disney Princess backpack?) she is teaching me. We are raising the change and teaching love.
This gives me hope.