As I have been preparing for the licensure exam, I have spent quite a few hours wondering what the last two years of my life have meant. I left a job where I was active in the community helping those afflicted by a stigma not of their choosing. In fact, I absolutely loved the work I did, day in and day out. I was given a caseload of children who were having difficulty functioning appropriately and acceptably in their own social world and families, and given the task of figuring out how to help them learn the social mores that they were somehow lacking. In addition, there was a challenge added through a variety of diagnoses that affected the way they learned. In all, I solved puzzles all day long every day and helped give families hope that there were better things in store.
Last year, I was placed at an agency where the children were often invisible. 1/4 of the kids I worked with were homeless at any given time, and in addition to the challenge of diagnoses, I was given the obstacles of poverty, addiction, and unstable environments and families to overcome. This year, the children I work with come from every socioeconomic background, and their problems stem from mild behavioral and severe emotional to those involved in the court system and previously incarcerated.
Despite this, I love every second of my days and every hand that I hold.
In all, my chosen path is not particularly rewarding in terms of money, status, or glamour, but instead is rewarding in terms of minute steps, tears, hugs, and smiles. Why, then, oh why did I choose this path? I am repeatedly asked by some why I have chosen to continue into something that provides long hours and little compensation.
I would like to leave you today with what I believe is the answer; it is my creed for why I do what I do.
A Prayer for the Children
We pray for the children who put chocolate fingers on everything, who love to be tickled, who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants, who eat candy before supper and who can never find their shoes in the morning.
And we also pray for those who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire, who have never bounded down the street in a new pair of shoes, who have never played "one potato, two potatoes," and who are born in places that we would not be caught dead in and that they will be.
We pray for the children who give us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions, who sleep with their dog and who bury their goldfish, who hug us so tightly and who forget their lunch money, who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink, who watch their fathers shave, and who slurp their soup.
And we also pray for those who will never get dessert, who have no favorite blanket to drag around behind them, who watch their fathers suffer, who cannot find any bread to steal, who do not have any rooms to clean up, whose pictures are on milk cartons instead of on dressers, and whose monsters are real.
We pray for the children who spend all of their allowance by Tuesday, who pick at their food, who love ghost stories, who shove dirty clothes under the bed and who never rinse the bathtub, who love visits from the Tooth Fairy, even after they find out who it really is, who do not like to be kissed in front of the school bus, and who squirm during services.
And we also pray for those children whose nightmares occur in the daytime, who will eat anything, who will never see a dentist, who are not spoiled by anyone, who go to bed hungry, who live and move and have no address.
We pray for those children who like to be carried and for those children who have to be carried, for those who give up and for those who never give up, for those who will grab the hand of anyone kind enough to offer it and for those who find no hand to grab.
Ina J. Hughes