Tuesday, March 11, 2008


My sister wrote about our parents in her latest blog post. She commented on how fortunate we are to have a mom and dad who care about and love us unconditionally. They have always, unfailingly, been there for us, putting our well-being above themselves. We grew up thinking this was the norm, but each of us have discovered in our adult lives that this is actually an exceptional experience. This past Saturday I was reminded of this fact. One of the freshman girls that I work with in the college readiness program lives with her aunt and her boyfriend as a result of being removed from her home. Each month I meet her and five other kids at the pick-up spot where we wait for the bus together, and then I wait until the parents or relatives pick them up. Every week all the parents except this girls' are there. This aunt is always late or forgets to pick her up altogether.

I remember getting off the bus after a track meet and calling my dad from the gas station to come pick me up. And they always did. One time I called and the phone was busy (what did we do before call waiting?) so I called the operator, faked an urgent voice, and requested an emergency break-through to get my mom off the phone. Needless to say, I was an especially impatient and indignant teenager. I had no idea that not all parents are dependable.

We'd had a great day on the college visit and this girl was laughing and talking to her friends all the way home. As soon as we got off the bus and she looked around for her aunt's minivan, however, her expression changed. "Where the h** is she?" she said, and then turned to me and said, "sorry, but she forgets every time!" I suggested she call her but the phone just rang and rang. She called her grandparents, but they weren't home. We waited 15 more minutes before I suggested giving her a ride home rather than waiting outside in the 20-degree weather any longer. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone forgets. But being forgotten and constantly waiting chips away at a kid's already crumbled self-esteem.

The point is, being safe and being cared for are two different things. I assume her aunt's house is a better environment compared to living with her mom, but the little things, like remembering to pick your kid up when she gets off the bus, are important. I hope I'm as dependable as my parents were and still are. Some things are worth waiting for, but knowing you are important enough to not be forgotten is not.