I have been in Residential Care for 30 years. It has certainly been a unique journey, and there is never a dull moment. Over the years, I have heard a lot. And I truly believe that “Kids say the darndest things” with sincere attempt or just to make you laugh.
Laughing in the Funny Moments
Take, for instance, the time a 6 year old was trying to memorize the Sanctuary Model’s 7 commitments. For reference the Commitments are Nonviolence, Emotional Intelligence, Social Learning, Shared Governance (Democracy), Open Communication, Social Responsibility, and Growth and Change.
I asked, “Can you remember any of them?”
He responded, “Yes!” and proceeded to state confidently, “Sociology and More Violence.”
I just smiled and said, “Pretty close.”
Crying in the Sad Moments
There are plenty of funny moments. But there are many sad and difficult ones too.
I remember the time when a five-year-old boy asked, “Ms. Kathy, where are you going?”
“I am heading home,” I responded.
He said, “Please don’t go.”
“I am sorry I must go,” I told him.
“Can I have a hug?” he asked. I proceeded to give him a hug, and as I let go I noticed that there were tears in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I miss my mom,” he said. And then I cried with him.
Finding Common Ground
Teenagers I’ve worked with who are now adults steal my heart, even today. I remember a young man who was in another residential program where I worked. It was tough to relate to him. But one thing we had in common was our love for peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter. He now resides in Ohio, and a few weeks ago I received a Facebook message from him. In the message he told me how I had touched his life and what he missed most.
He stated, “I miss our times of eating peanut butter together.”
A love of peanut butter may seem simple or silly, but it created a lasting bond that he remembers, even now in adulthood. Kids love to laugh, play, make connections, and gain attention. As adults working in child welfare, we can and will make a difference in the life of every child we encounter if we are intentional and make that our number one goal.
But as much as I desire to change their lives, after 30 years in this field, I have discovered that the children are the ones that have truly made the difference in my life!