This I Believe

Abigail - Shippensburg, Pennsylvania
Entered on October 20, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children

I believe in children. They have the resiliency that grown-ups lack, and ignorance that is sometimes wiser than all our book learning.

Today I held a 7 month-old child who was born in shower #12 at a local truck-stop. His health at birth was good, his sociological prognosis was poor. Thank goodness he is too ignorant to know that. As I spent time with him, he ate, drank, burped, drooled and wobbled in his stationary “walker”. Then he started to cry. I was told, ”Don’t pick him up, he’s already spoiled!” But I couldn’t help myself. I am a Mom (with a capital “M”), a Step-mom, an

Aunt and a Grandma. I followed my instinctual response. He immediately smiled and blew laughing bubbles from his dripping gums. The horrid seriousness that permeates my adulthood evaporated.

We gurgled and laughed and spent quite a bit of time examining his toes and talking about them. I checked his Babinski response, the one that doctors and nurses check by dragging their reflex hammer along the sole of your

foot, and we played a rather complex game of Object Permanence (AKA: “Pee-A-Boo”). It was fun, in its most pure state. Judging from his ability to socialize, this child has as good a chance as any, in our crazy world, despite the circumstances surrounding his birth.

I am a school nurse. I see a lot of things I never thought I would, in reference to the care of children. Children come to me when they are bleeding, when they are sick, when they are exhausted, when they are neglected. When they are lonely and sad, they come into my office and complain about general malaise. They have the innate wisdom to know humans are social animals, and loneliness is not a normal, or healthful,

condition. When they are worried about the new baby that’s stretching Mom’s figure into something almost unrecognizable, they come into my office with signs and symptoms of stress. And when they are being abused, they try to hide it from everybody … well … almost everybody.

But children show their remarkable ability to survive and flourish, despite all the pressures we put them under, all the soccer and ballet and basketball and karate lessons and chauffeuring about to what we feel is best

for them. And they live past all the neglect they get when we are dragging them about, doing only what we feel is best for us.

Most children survive and thrive despite all that we adults may do. While some of the things I see in a school year may be, in my book, unforgivable, the children who survive us always have before them the same thing we have in accelleratingly dwindling supply – the future. It is a future that is yet to be owned, and they go on because they want to hold that future in their hands. They continue to reach for it, as if in some race to be an

adult, and to be the alleged success that we adults are. While I know, for some of the children I see, this is definitely NOT the best time of their lives, the childhood they still have inside them is precious. And there is no other time to completely possess the wonder of childhood.

Here, in childhood, these amazing creatures of survival and wonder and innocence and unbounded strength, live. I am honored to be in their company.

I tell you what, when I grow up I want to be like Thomas, as sweet as a person can be. When I grow up, I want to be really smart, like Ian; and strong like Hannah; and adventuresome like Gabby. When I grow up, I want to be all these things, like Culver. They may want to be like us but when I grow up, I want to be like them.

I believe in children.