Today, my parents are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Not only am I very proud of their devotion to one another, I am incredibly thankful for their parenting and support. I am blessed.
This week, I finished my nineteenth year in education, and my seventh as a principal. In that time, I have seen the positive difference that loving adults make in a child’s life and I have seen the devastating impact of abuse inflicted by those who are supposed to be a child’s most ardent supporters. Just this week, I dealt with an almost unimaginable incident of verbal and mental abuse by a parent — at a level I have never seen. It was a harsh reminder of how fortunate I was (and still am) to have the support of two loving parents. What an advantage I have been afforded simply through steadfast support and unconditional love.
All children should be so fortunate.
But, we know that isn’t the case. Many kids suffer from abuse, neglect, and inattention. Some of our kids have loving adults in their lives who are simply stretched to thin — by poverty, by work constraints, by stress, or by their own traumatic experiences.
We all have opportunities to stand in the gap. Chances to either be the loving adult in a child’s life, or support that loving adult who is struggling to balance the demands of the world. Teachers, administrators, pastors, community members, friends, relatives…we can all be advocates for kids on the margins. For some kids, kindness, love, and support may literally be the difference between life and death.
I am a fan of the 2012 movie, Chasing Mavericks — based on the true story of Jay Moriarty. In the movie, Jay is one of those kids who needs someone to “stand in the gap.” Accomplished surfer Frosty Hesson takes him under his wing, mentoring Jay as he prepares to surf Mavericks — one of the biggest waves in the world. At one point in the movie, Frosty is complaining to his wife Brenda about Jay’s struggles and the challenges of keeping him on the right path. Brenda gently reminds Frosty that Jay has looked up to him his whole life, and then says,
There are all kinds of sons Frosty. Some are born to you, some just occur to you.
Isn’t that the truth. Sometimes sons and daughters just occur to us. Children on the margins. May we all be able, and willing, to recognize these kiddos and stand in the gaps with kindness and love.
Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! Thanks for standing with me. Love you both!