What about the children? We should talk about them. We should talk about the children whose parents are not like you. They do not live in a secure home where the pantry is full, the lights are always on, where TV time is planned around schoolwork or family activities. These children aren't even fortunate enough to have parents who allow unlimited access to screens while they snap cute pictures of their kid and post them on social media. No, these are not those children.
The children my heart hurts for are the ones whose world stopped the day they learned that they could not go to school tomorrow. The school is shutting down because people are getting sick, said the teacher. In the first few days, we all heard the clammer of free lunch and the scurry to make sure the kids could get the meals. I do not hear much about that now, and I assure you that there are hungry children in America tonight. We could address that problem, perhaps if it were the only issue. Did I miss the part where we solved the opioid addiction? What about the children in homes where the smell of tar and nicotine or marijuana fills the air? School was their escape from addicted parents more consumed with that than them. It was also the place where teachers took notice. They noticed when a child was hungry or tired or afraid, and they gently filled in gaps or took steps to get outside help. Who filled the gaps today, I wonder? For these are the children who live with addiction and abuse. School, for them, is a refuge.
My memories overcome me. I realize that they are skewed to the understanding of a child recalling details that are likely inaccurate and yet shaped my being. How will the children remember this? Will they remember hearing their parents discussing "paying the bills," figuring out how much money to spend on groceries, making sacrifices so that they can keep the electricity on at house? Their life is changing, and they may not realize it yet, but their parents feel it. These children have working-class parents who live day to day, paycheck to paycheck, and give it everything they've got. I can recall my grandmother saying, "you don't have to be the best; you have to be your best." It is far easier to judge those whose best isn't good enough than it is to understand that they are giving it their personal best. Tonight, they are out of money, low on groceries, worried about their children, and leaning on Hope. They want to go back to work so that they can provide for their family.
How will the children remember this? For those children whose families are secure, whose pantry is full, and where the biggest challenge is being quiet while mom or dad jump on the conference call, it will likely be with memories of fun, family, and freedom. My greatest wish is that every child in America would be these children. But, one day, even these children will examine this time, and they will ask tough questions, and they will pay the price of our decisions.
We should really talk more about the children.