It’s that time of year again!
You’ve had a busy summer full of camp, pool days, frolicking, bug spray, and–dare I say it–even boredom. You may or may not be ready to have your kids head back to school, but while you’re getting your school supplies list ready, that backpack ordered from Pottery Barn, or even finishing that last minute summer reading, there’s something I want you to consider.
During the summer, there have been children longing to go back to school since they left.
These children suffer from food insecurity, poverty in general, or even parents who work from sun up to sun down. These children may also suffer from broken familial relationships, abusive homes, or neglect. In the United States, 21% of children live below the federal poverty threshold.
I talk about this because I was that child.
I was that child who had a parent constantly working.
I was that child who was food insecure.
I was that child.
Had it not been for public school, I don’t know what would have become of me.
Then there were kind parents like her.
I remember in 5th grade, I went on an overnight trip with the school. We visited a marshland, and it was thrilling for a child who had so little. The only problem was that this trip required a great deal of help from parents: we needed special clothing, equipment, a sleeping bag, etc. For most middle-class families, you could just swing by Walmart and buy camping gear for your 10-year-old. But it wasn’t like that for me. Buying a pair of $3 water shoes for my trip was unfeasible. On that trip, my tennis shoes were ruined by the marshland. I was scared. I didn’t know what I was going to do…until another parent stepped in. She went out that night while we headed to our campsite and bought me a pair of sneakers.
She saw me in need.
Honestly, I think they were maybe a few dollars. But she saw a child who was desperate. It didn’t matter if I was a close friend of her child. She could have easily looked the other way. But the important thing was that she didn’t. She inspired me from that day on to have that same kindness to children who are my child’s peers.
Today, my children live in a food secure home. They have name embroidered backpacks, swim lessons, friends with involved parents, and parents who love the stuffing out of them. And we don’t have everything (you should look at my 2001 sedan with 200,000 plus miles!), but we have enough. We have enough to share.
Be that parent who packs another snack in your child’s lunchbox in case another child needs it. Chaperone on field trips and befriend that child who’s sitting alone. If your child wants to visit an impoverished friend’s house, let them. Let your child bring that friend over for dinner.