There is an image I cannot get out of my mind.
It is that of a little boy, about 9 years old, sitting outside, waiting for his father. This little boy was a part of a summer program, and the kids were going on a field trip; the boy’s father had promised he would chaperone.
At first, the little boy, who was no angel, was his normal, precocious self, bothering other kids, taxing teachers and denying any wrongdoing if a classmate accused him of some infraction.
But after a while, he slipped outside the school and sat on a rock, alone. I kept my eye on him; he sat there for some time, looking, straining, really, as he looked down the street.
Finally, I went to him and asked him why he was outside. Ignoring my question, he said, “Could I use your phone so I could call my father? He’s supposed to be here. He said he was going with us.”
I called his father’s number …but nobody answered. I told the little boy and he persisted. “Well, call my mother. She’ll be able to call him.” I followed directions and called his mother and gave him the phone. He asked, pleaded, for his mother to call his father, and I guess his mother said that his father wasn’t available.
Big tears welled up in his eyes…he hung his head, and said, before he hung up, “OK. I love you.” I assume his mother said for him to be good…or some such.
There was a quiet moment, and then it was like I could see fire well up in his eyes, with a heat so hot it melted his capacity to feel. The teary eyes were now angry and hurt. This, I could see, had happened before, and not a few times. Part of the reason for his unruly behavior was now apparent to me.
Those who want to have children ought to wait until they are ready to have children before they bring new lives into the world. As I sat and watched that little boy, I thought of how angry children grow up to be angry adults; depressed children grow up to be angry adults. Kids who live with disappointment, persistent and regular disappointment, learn not to hope, not to dream, not to care.
Every child needs love and nurturing. Parents who promise their children anything …and then simply don’t do it…are messing with the lives of innocent souls. Children don’t know how to verbalize their disappointment; more often than not, when a parent is unavailable, either physically, emotionally, or both, are doing damage to little people who just don’t have the wherewithal to cope with what they are left feeling.
Contrast what a child who has love and support can and will do with one like the little boy I’ve described here. Gabby Douglas, who wowed the world with her gymnastic skills, had not only a mother and family that loved and supported her, but had a surrogate family as well, who loved her.
Maybe…no, I am sure, this little boy has something significant that he’s supposed to share with the world as well; perhaps he was born to be yet another Olympics hero…but I doubt we will ever know it, because disappointed, angry children get stuck, first in their own disappointment, and later in a justice system that is often not so just.
Too many children are born and dumped. The men who produced the sperm that fertilized the egg that produced too many children make babies without even thinking about taking care of those babies, and the women who lie down with a man, any man, for sex that produces children are likewise, many of them, not interested in being a parent.
I sometimes wonder if pro-life advocates think about that. There is so much push to protect fetuses and not nearly enough attention paid to the children who are actually born…and dumped.
I don’t mean to be unusually harsh on the parents of these children. It’s likely that the parents are giving what they received, and withholding what they don’t even know exists. They parent as they do because they never experienced love and support and therefore, they cannot conceive giving it…but that doesn’t make what they do fair to the children they produce.
Who knows what the little boy whose father never came has inside him? What gifts that might enhance this world will be squandered and lost because this little boy feels detached and neglected and ignored by his father? Who knows that that’s the reason, or at least part of the reason, that there is so much crime, so many gangs? Little children grow into young people looking for ways to fill the gaps…and sometimes, that never happens.
I think I’ll follow-up with this little boy. I think I’ll try to show him that he is a child special to God, special to the world…and worthy of love. The fact that I cannot get him out of my mind must mean that my seeing him sit on that rock, alone and forlorn, looking for the father who never came, was not a mistake.
A candid observation …