There’s something about music and coffee shops that makes me want to write. I don’t know what it is, but the tastes, smells, the sound of the music…all of it creates the atmosphere that allows my mind to get into the introspective mode that helps me say what I need to say. Maybe coffee is just the physical manifestation of those elusive “creative juices” that are so…well, elusive.
This past week has been a tough one. We entered the last two weeks of the program before Christmas break bestows the long-awaited two week sabbatical that (I hope) will recharge and rejuvenate my spirit for the long push to May. Unfortunately, the kids are all too aware that a long break is coming and, as any teacher or after school worker knows, the days preceding a break are full of craziness. It is out in full force at the Las Abuelitas after school program. Last week was filled with moments of good, fulfilling one-on-one moments with kids mixed with a variety of fires and misbehavior that would spring up from nowhere and that I had nothing more than what amounted to a squirt gun to deal with. At least, that’s what it felt like. In the fast-paced world of child care, nothing can turn into something very quickly, in several different places, and with varying degrees of severity. This is where my linear brain hurts/fails me. I can’t focus adequately on any one thing to see it through to its conclusion and, during the time that I’m struggling to solve one issue, twelve more have sprung up and are getting worse the more I focus on one. I have yet to develop the flexibility necessary to balance all the various issues that arise on a daily basis (and are magnified close to a break).
It’s moments like these that I am forcibly reminded that working with kids was low on my list of desires for this year in Tucson. I don’t have a lot of experience working with the young ones. I didn’t study anything in school that would have helped prepare me for this work. And kids stretch my already thin patience…literally all the time. This job would be challenging for me even in a familiar environment, but this is a YAV year, there’s nothing familiar about this experience. In addition to the universal challenges that come from working with kids, there is an added wrinkle The kids I’m working with have experienced things I can only imagine. The have backgrounds completely unfamiliar to mine. And they’ve probably seen things that no kid should have to see.
Just a couple months ago, we had a minor incident between two kids on the basketball court. One tripped the other and the result was a mildly scraped knee that was vastly exaggerated in its severity. I thought that was the end of it. But when the kid who’s knee was scraped was picked up, he was talking about the incident to his mom and I noticed the kid who had done the tripping was hiding in the bathroom. I walked over and asked him what was wrong. He told me he was hiding because he thought the police were going to be called to come and pick him up. Because of a playground incident. Between two elementary aged boys.
What do I do with that? In addition to the challenges of working with kids, there is this added wrinkle, this barrier that I won’t be able to overcome no matter how hard I try. These things are beyond me because my life experience is so vastly different from theirs. This is one of the more overwhelming parts of my job.
So at the end of a long week of feeling like I’m not enough, of feeling unprepared and incapable of adapting to this situation, I broke down at our community discernment session yesterday. Then, I received a wonderful reminder. I am enough. We are enough. No matter the seemingly insurmountable barriers that are in front of us, we are enough. God knows what He is doing; He doesn’t give His children more than they can handle. God knows us because He created us, He knows what we are capable of and what would be too much. Even the insurmountable barriers are surmountable because they were given by God to teach, to form, and to create who we were meant to be in Him. Whether our challenges are hard life experiences, unfamiliar work circumstances, or new environments that seem so different from home; it doesn’t matter. Because we are enough as who we are. We are enough as the person we were created to be by a God who loves and knows us. You are enough and you are loved.
Thank you, Loving God, for creating and knowing and loving us…for making us enough.
And so we go.