Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Typical Friday Night

There is so much to write about right now...two more Pierce County Deputies were shot in the line of duty last night, three days from now I leave for a week-long vacation to visit my brother, sister-in-law and nephew for Christmas in Chicago, my glowing review at the zoo, my slow but steady fund-raising efforts....but all that is on my mind is a scene from my night last Friday night.

As most of you know, I have been volunteering at an inner-city kid's ministry on Friday nights called Kids Sozo.  The heartbreak that these kids live through is absolutely unreal.  I got to witness this first-hand last week.

There is a kid who comes to Kids Sozo regularly, I'll call "Trent."  Trent is probably one of our "harder" cases.  I am not certain what his family life is fully like outside of Kids Sozo, but I do know this....he acts up and mis-behaves with the best (or is that worst?) of them.  Capturing this kid's interest and cooperation is a hard task on a good week.

Last Friday was the friday kicking off winter break from school in Tacoma.  My co-volunteer Erika says that kids who come from harder backgrounds tend to act up around break times because for them school is actually a respite and somewhere they like to go to to get away from home.  Knowing that they are going to spend so much time at home can bring out the worst in kids.  This is so heartbreaking for me, having such the opposite experience when I was growing up. 

On Friday during our craft and snack time, Trent was being particularly ornery.  Not destructive, but he was certainly not earning the brownie we had in store for him for snack.  When told he would have to wait to get his brownie and why, he got very upset and stormed out of the room. When Erika tried to chat with him about what had happened, he grabbed his coat and ran away from the building.  Erika went on a search for him outside, caught up to him to talk to him for a bit, but then he ran away again, which prompted a call home from us to let his guardians (I'm not even sure that Trent lives with his parents) know he had run away.  His male guardian managed to track Trent down and showed up at the door to Kids Sozo a while later asking for Erika.

Trent was obviously IN. TROUBLE. with this man.  He had his hood pulled up over his face, looking forlornly down at the floor not talking or making eye contact with anyone.  Erika came out to talk to Trent and hear his apology. 

While I was out front managing the front desk and we were waiting for Erika to show up up front, I had an opportunity to hear what this man was saying to Trent.  The kinds of things coming out of this man mouth would have made a grown man cry, much less a ten-year-old boy.  He didn't cuss or swear, but the verbal abuse and put downs directed at Trent were shocking to me.  He began at the top of Trent's head  and continued down to the bottom of his shoes criticizing and making fun.  He next started in on Trent's character and behavior.  It wasn't a physical beating, but the scars and wounds that this child suffered through in just the ten minutes he was out there in front with me would have been a lifetime of injustices for anyone.

I can't imagine that this is that unusual for Trent to hear.  The venom and hate spewing from this man, who was supposed to be taking care of and loving Trent flowed too easily from his mouth for them not to be a regularly occurring thing.

This is the kind of thing that we are up against.  We are battling for the heart of kids like Trent.  We are battling so that these kids, who know nothing but anger, know that they are loved.  We are battling so that they know the life they are used to is not the life they have to have. I just pray that our few hours with kids like Trent each week are enough to combat what they face during the other hours of their week.

This is part of what I am fund-raising for....to be able to reach kids like Trent and the dozens of other kids just like him that I encounter each week at Kids Sozo, before it is too late for this generation of kids.


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