This week, I let a kindergarten kid play with my iPhone to coax him into the tutoring classroom. I set up a plan for dealing with this ongoing issue and consulted with his mama. She’s a tough one to get to know, his mama, but I try.
This week, I promised two little boys I would pick them up on Friday and take them to my house.
This week, on a crazy afternoon, a granny asked me for alcohol and I thought. I wish! I could use a swig. But that's not what she meant. She was looking for rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to take care of an injured kid. A few months ago, we were awkward because we didn't know each other but now the awkwardness is gone and I can’t help but hug her every time I see her. I love that granny.
This week, I dropped off a little girl and shook hands with her father. His hand was dry, he had a tattoo on his neck and he's just fresh from jail. He asked how his daughter was doing in class and they both basked in the rain of praise.
This week, a first grade child sulked and balked and rolled her eyes. I scolded and cajoled and got nowhere. I dropped her off at home and shared the day’s report with her granny. (Another granny.) Granny took my hands and leaned in. “Her cousin died in a fire this morning.” (Note to self: There’s ALWAYS a reason when a kid drives you crazy!)
This week, I was twenty minutes late to pick up the two little boys. They were waiting expectantly in the yard with their eleven-year-old sister who was hoping to come too. The car was packed with my kids and company kids and there was no way to shoehorn one more child in. Disappointed, she couldn't look me in the eye. I could see her in my rear view mirror as I drove away, still standing in the yard.
This week, I made plans to pick up an eleven-year-old girl on Saturday.
This week, I held a preschooler in my lap in time-out, three times in sixty minutes. We were armed with dolls and a timer to get us through. We practiced, I’m sorry for punching and then, I’m sorry for throwing and finally, I'm sorry for stealing and all three times, I forgive you.
This week, my husband drove the preschooler home an hour early for throwing bread for a second time the full length of our dining room table.
This week, I dropped off a two-year-old three houses down from yellow Police Line Do Not Cross tape strung across his street. Three hours before, there was no tape.
This week, there was a sixteen-year-old with a gunshot wound trundled into the back of an ambulance. The reason for the tape.
I went to a city-wide safety meeting a few weeks ago to discuss this wave of gang violence that is sweeping across Chattanooga and mingled with people in business suits. They pulled business cards from their pockets. I wore my yoga pants without pockets so I had an excuse for not trading my Just a Mom card for their Head of Parks and Rec, Professor, Researcher, and Upper Management Police Dude cards. Lots of ideas were brought to the table from vocational training for teens to more staffing for community services. Good ideas. But I am learning that the Mom card counts. There is much work to do here. I thought it would be hard but it is not. It’s overwhelming maybe but not hard. It turns out that parenting skills and a bit of love go a long way. All over the city, there are people who see these issues as their responsibility. And wouldn't it be an awesome, if Chattanooga was not known as a city with gang and violence and crime problems but as a city with a redemption story? It could easily happen if hundreds of whole and healthy people across the county breathed hope and righteousness and discipline into a few fragile lives by doing things that are no harder than what I did in five hours this week.