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the view from up here

January 28, 2014

because i spend my saturdays drinking french press coffee with girls in tory burch?

that’s what i thought heading into my junior league mid-year meeting.  that’s probably what a lot of people think of the junior league.  and then i sat in a hotel ballroom this weekend and listened to a homeless mom talk about the junior league’s impact on her young son through a pre-school and day care center we help support and staff.  last night, after work, i made my way across the district to the day care center.

we traced the kids through the hallways by the sound of their squeals and shrieks.  the minute the volunteer coordinator opened the door to the classroom, i fell headfirst into a circus of rainbow-colored building blocks and zooming tricycles and 4 year olds running aimlessly from corner to corner of the room.  i played a back-breaking game of “push me faster” with a little girl on a big wheel and then slowed things down with a babbling baby boy who kept making the universal sign for “up” so he could gaze out the window at the capitol dome in the not-so-far distance.  i snagged my tights and didn’t give it a second thought as i cozied up on the floor to sing/scream the wheels on the bus.  we ended the evening with a dinner of salad and chicken tenders, washed down with apple “joos.”  and then we managed chaos until the stream of moms had emptied our classroom of the terrorizing tots.

i work with kids every single day.  white kids, black kids, tall kids, left-handed kids.  but last night, as i broke a sweat taking my third lap during “push me faster,” i looked around the room and realized these kids were different.  and not just because they need help cutting up their chicken tenders.  the kids i work with at school have been given every opportunity.  they have private tutors for math and private school tuition dollars that afford them small classes and luxury meals in the cafeteria (antipasto bar anyone?).  they have spiffy new uniforms each athletic season and old homes in the hills of fairfax county.  they have parents who have more degrees after their name than there are degrees of separation between me and lady gaga.  they drink french press coffee in their new tory burch riding boots in their heated car on the way to school each morning.  i realize this is a gross over-generalization.  but you get the point.  yesterday morning i went to work with the haves and last night i nurtured the have nots.

and those kids were so happy.  happy to play “slam dunk the basketball in the hoop while we all clap for you” and “i don’t care that you’re old, push me fasterrrrrr!!!”  they were happy for twinkling little stars and pigs that say oink, oink here and oink, oink there.  they were happy for chicken tenders and not so happy about honey mustard.  they were happy when i hoisted them on my hip and pointed out the window to the glowing capitol building.  but i wish that babbling baby boy could see more than the streams of cars emptying off 395 onto the crowded streets of d.c.  i wish he could see the opportunity set out before him…it’s brighter than the headlights.  these kids are different than the ones i work with every day.  and i hope that i’m a little bit different after having spent the night with them.

it’s not all french press and tory burch.

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