Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Pray For Children

Every once in a while I get frustrated in the classroom. Things don't go the way I plan, the energy flags, I have to work really hard to get the kids to just pay attention. I get worn out, you know? Sometimes I feel like I am just faking it. Then something beautiful happens to restore my faith, my confidence. It is the natural rhythm I suppose and I should learn to trust it.

I read this poem a bunch of years ago. I don't know it's history but I use it often when I speak to teachers about what our job really is. I am a teacher of little kids. I don't just teach math or reading or social studies. I teach children. This poem by Ina Hughes reminds me.

We pray for children
who put chocolate fingers everywhere
who like to be tickled
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants
who sneak popsicles before supper
who erase holes in math workbooks
who can never find their shoes

And we pray for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire
who can't bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers
who never "counted potatoes"
who are born in places we wouldn't be caught dead
who never go to the circus
who live in an x-rated world
Children playing behind barbed wire in a slum. The inhabitants are being threatened by forced resettlement,Dey Krahom slum area,Phnom Phen,Cambodia photo
We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions
who sleep with the dog and bury goldfish
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money
who cover themselves with band-aids and sing off key
who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink
who slurp their soup

And we pray for those
who never get dessert
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them
who watch their parents watch them die
who can't find any bread to steal
who don't have any rooms to clean up
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser
whose monsters are real

We pray for children
who spend their allowance before Tuesday
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food
who like ghost stories
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub
who get visits from the tooth fairy
who don't like to be kissed in front of the carpool
who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone
whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime
who will eat anything
who have never seen a dentist
who aren't spoiled by anybody
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep
who live and breathe but have no being

We pray for children who want to be carried and for those who must
for those we never give up on
and for those who don't have a second chance

For those we smother... and for those who will grab the hand of
anybody kind enough to offer it.
Ina J. Hughes

At school we have a moment of silence every day. "Please pause for a moment of silence," says the child who reads the announcement. It used to mean nothing to me. It was just this little moment where I would mentally prepare for the school day ahead. Now I pray for children.

1 comment:

Meesh Hays said...

During our moment of silence, one of my favorite tricks to remind myself to use it wisely is to place my hands on the shoulders of the nearest child and pray for that one in particular. Love this poem. Love this job.