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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

7 Posts in 7 Days -- Take Heart; Good Abounds

Regular readers of this blog will know that I work in a considerably less-than-affluent area. I am a school speech pathologist in a very low income community. I provide services for kids who regularly see gang activity, drugs, and violence. Many of them don't see much food, except for school breakfasts and lunches. Most of them have seen things that I have not.

These last couple of weeks have been filled with summer school for me. The good thing about summer school is that there are far fewer children to provide services for. The challenging thing about it is that about half of the kids to be seen are from another therapist's caseload and, therefore, unfamiliar.

By Chris Metcalf (Crayola Lincoln Logs) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Kids are great. Kids who have had experiences that would make an adult cry and tremble are challenging. John and Sue (not their real names of course) are two such first graders. I had not previously met them, but have spent the last five work days on my toes keeping these two in line while I try to inject some speech and language therapy into their perpetual-motion filled existences.  Wow. 

John and Sue seem to recognize that they have something in common in that their home experiences are, quite likely, the worst of any in the group. To celebrate, they are at constant war with one another. There is kicking and hitting and screaming. There is competition and there are physical struggles. There are tears. It's exhausting for them and the for adults who are responsible for them. I sent a text to their regular therapist on Monday.  "I'm concerned about how John and Sue will each fare in middle school," I said. "Me too," was her reply. "They each have terrible home lives."  It's easy to despair about the futures of little ones such as these. 

By Mathieudu68 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Today in speech therapy we played a farm game. (Actually, we worked on location and quality concepts, but the kids are certain that we just played a farm game. Speech pathologists are tricky like that!) Sue was dead set on choosing the pig when her turn came around. Unfortunately, the student just before her chose the pig. (Uh oh!)

Sue was emotionally shattered. BANG went her forehead on the table. The moment she determined that slamming her head forward onto the table was not the most comfortable means of expressing her disappointment, the tears came fast and plentifully. She began balling.  I'm pretty sure they heard her in the next town.

Ariel Waldman [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As I got up to secure a cold pack for her forehead, John got up too. Now John is familiar with the words, "John SIT DOWN!" -- because he hears them often. Cooperation with the teacher and following of the rules are not his strong suits. As I prepared to remind him that he is not allowed to rummage through the teacher's desk, tear things off the walls, or pummel his group mates, I was stopped short.  John made his way around the entire table to Sue's side, stroked her little arm, and surrounded her with comfort. 

In a world where contemporary Baptists take in newly-homeless traditional Anglicans (smells, bells, funny hats, and all), Japanese commuters unite to tilt a train to free a woman trapped on the tracks, and John comforts Sue, we are going to be okay. There is much to hope to be found.

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
~Romans 15:13 

Pax Christi dear ones,
Take heart!  Even in difficult times, we are loved by an Almighty God.

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  1. <3 My prayers for them and all the little children like them. Love exists within their wounded hearts... sometimes it just needs a safe spot to grow.

    Bless you for providing that spot, Michelle. Bless you and all the educators out there who struggle and try to give these children just a moment of being children.

  2. "Actually, we worked on location and quality concepts, but the kids are certain that we just played a farm game. Speech pathologists are tricky like that!"
    So I wasn't actually ditching class to see a speech pathologist? Rats.


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