There is a child in my room who struggles with neglect. His little face is rarely washed. His clothes stay on his body for literally weeks at a time. He is constantly itchy. These are the smaller things that are left empty in his life...the one I really notice is how much he needs hugs. Oh yes, the way he goes about it is lip-curling-ly annoying...but, it pains me to see how deep his emptiness has come. He is only 6 years old. How does a little child get so lost and hollow?
I love my job because I get to see parents who fill their children to capacity every single day. They are brushed and fed and moderately clean (all Kindergarteners have the tremendous ability of taking one crayon from a cup and finding themselves dirty from sleeve to toe). I see children who do not need my hugs but definitely want them. I talk to littles who want my attention, but do not always need it. This boy needs it.
I want to rattle the teeth out of the parents who simply forget that they've a little child they brought into the world who still needs their tenderness. What in god's name happens to them that they cannot check to see if their child is hungry or full, dirty or clean, sad or happy, awake or asleep...life is full of emptiness some days.
As a teacher, there is a gap I can fill...and so I fill it with a hug, a tender look, a real interest, a glass of milk, a hot apple cider...whatever I can do to fill up that boy's growing emptiness...