It takes a village…
Lily is almost an official crawler. She has mastered all of the different components—up on all fours, alternating arm and leg movements, and even (awkward) forward locomotion– but she hasn’t put them together yet. It’s frustrating for her, I can tell, and it’s so hard to sit back and watch her try, uncomfortable and impatient, to get from one point to the next. But I also know that it’s necessary, and important, and good practice for both of us, because she just gets more self-sufficient from here.
And therein lies the struggle, I suppose– as she becomes more independent, I lose the ability to control all of the variables that could endanger her or hurt her or make her sad. And while I have to convince myself every day to accept that preventing her from having experiences is the surest way to delay her growth, I know, logically, that fostering her independence is one of my most important parental responsibilities.
Sometimes, however, something happens that renders logical thinking totally meaningless. Like earlier this week, when Karina Vargas—a 17 year old student at Aurora Central High School—was shot across the street from campus in an apparent gang altercation (that she, according to reports, had absolutely nothing to do with).
Having spent several years as a teacher at ACHS, my first thought was: this can’t be right. Because although Central has long had a reputation as a tough school, it is also a wonderful and challenging and inspiring place to be. And if something like this can happen here, in a community that—in spite of its challenges—works hard to cultivate empathy and solidarity, then what does that mean? How, as a parent, can I send my own child into a world this unsafe? And what on Earth led me to believe that I was capable of managing a mountain of uncertainties this overwhelming?
But then I think of my colleagues at Central, a compassionate, generous, and very human bunch of teachers and administrators committed to ensuring that their students leave school with the tools necessary for navigating a society that wasn’t really designed with them in mind. I remember my students, a funny, kind, and curious group of kids who always, always, always pushed the limits because they knew, inherently, that it was their job to do so.
And maybe they are the how and the why: you send your own children out into a world this potentially unsafe so that they can figure out how to learn, and support one another, and struggle, and get hurt, and succeed. And even though it is difficult, and scary, and you know that bad things are probably going to happen, you trust that the people they encounter along the way—the teachers, and the students, and the other members of their community—are willing to be your village.