There was a day last week that was particularly rough. I had a student steal an opened carton of milk out of the cafeteria in the pocket. The milk spilled, their pants were then wet and other children ratted the child out. The teacher later confided in me that the child took it because they don't have any food at home.
It broke my heart.
Sadly, this isn't the only child like this at my school and we are not the only school like this in our district. And I think it's pretty safe to say that there are similar cases in almost every public school in America.
That night, I went home and found a complete and total disaster in the girls' bathroom. Squalor. Complete and total squalor. I can't even tell you all the gory details because I am (still) so disgusted by it. I was furious with them. I yelled. And perhaps screamed a bit. I sent them to bed for the night...without dinner.
I went downstairs and ate a really wonderful, home cooked meal (with enough for left overs) with Chris and Quinn. I had a tall glass of milk with dinner. And I couldn't help but think back to the child in my library earlier that day. I am quite sure that they would be grateful for all that we had to offer at our house...in a way that my children are not.
Chris and I talked about this issue during dinner. We know that the girls care about others. They make the choice to help others through missions and when presented with an opportunity to help, they jump at it. We talk as a family about why we donate clothing, why we donate food, why we volunteer in our community.
I know that if they knew about the child at school they would probably start smuggling food to them. They are empathetic children. They want to help and do the right thing. They hurt for others.
But they don't know how to be grateful for what they have. They just don't seem to grasp that concept.
My mom and I talked a lot about this...I was grateful as a child because we didn't have a whole lot. We moved a lot. My parents were divorced. There were times when I wanted to do things and my mom had to tell me no because we couldn't afford it. There was a summer when we lived off of hot dogs, creamet salad and sun tea.
Is there a way to learn/teach gratefulness without having hardships in life?
**ps - as for the dinner, I caved and sent Chris up with plates for both of them.