It’s a unique position we’re in- being responsible for our kids. We’re not their parents, we’re not their teachers, but we’re running a center where they come every day. We encourage them to make good choices. But can we force them to get in our busito every day and go to school? Sure can’t. But do their teachers ask us, the directors of Crecer, to sign their exams and report cards? Sure do. It’s unique. And it isn’t easy.
I’ve been so ridiculously lucky these past two years as Crecer has crecer-ed (ha!) to what it is now. Jenny, Haley, Franklin, and I usually have the same heart and mindset when it comes to our kids. When we talk about what’s best for them, the four of us generally agree on the path we should take. Sure, we have different opinions and viewpoints, but we can always find common ground and I value all of their opinions. It’s always felt like everyone involved with Crecer has also shared the same vision. There are tweaks of course, as with any organization, but I’ve always felt part of a united front, tackling the dark, ugly, messy reality that our kids face every day.
So when we came up against some of the disciplines and instabilities that have been happening at school lately, it became uncharted territory. I’m watching people make decisions that go in the complete opposite direction of what we’re all about at Crecer. I’m watching my kids feel sad, rejected, and labeled as “the bad kid.” I’m seeing them lose the vibrant energy they had at the beginning of the school year and feel defeated. And it’s like I’m leaping into Mama Bear Mode.
Switching gears real quick. I promise I’ll get back to Mama Bear in a minute.
The Irresistible Revolution is a book that a friend gave me a while ago, as she watched me unable to articulate why I feel so strongly that Christians haven’t exactly been pulling our weight in the “fight with the little guy” category. The author, Shane Claiborne, is the founder of The Simple way, a community in Philadelphia who works alongside people who have been marginalized. The Simple Way, true to their name, works in the purest, most Jesus way possible. He explains, “For Jesus did not seek out the rich and powerful in order to trickle down his kingdom. Rather, he joined those at the bottom, the outcasts, and the undesirables, and everyone was attracted to his love for people on the margins.”
Yup. Beautiful. Community. If only I could shout this from the church rooftops…but that’s another blog for another time.
Anyways. There’s a part of his book where he talks about not being “a voice for the voiceless,” a phrase that I know comes from well-meaning hearts, but is actually pretty offensive once you dissect it. Regardless of who is listening, everyone has a voice. We as a society have just grown accustomed to only valuing the voices of a select few.
“We are not a voice for the voiceless. The truth is that there is a lot of noise out there drowning out quiet voices and many people have stopped listening to the cries of their neighbors. Lots of folks have put their hands over their ears to drown out the suffering. Institutions have distanced themselves from the disturbing cries…This is the chorus of the generations of seemingly voiceless people that we have joined. And God has a special ear for their groaning, regardless of who else is listening.”
My kids have a voice. And boy do I wish I could just hand them a megaphone and make the whole world (okay, I’ll settle for the city of San Pedro Sula. Hell, I’ll even settle for just their school.) listen to their stories, hear their cries, and work in a compassionate way to become a part of their community. But for some reason, society has been accustomed to believe that 13 year olds living in poverty don’t need to be heard. People think that they should immediately obey and be grateful to people who “just want to help.” For some reason, people hold those in poverty to an impossible standard- truly believing that kids like mine should just “be thankful” for opportunities to study and then sit silently as they face injustice.
When I picked up my 13 year old from school one day and saw him in shambles, getting into the car after a long day of adults telling him how he should feel, why he’s wrong, and claiming to know how to “fix” him…guys, my blood was boiling. It’s a privilege to know that he considers Crecer to be his safe space- adults who he knows will fight alongside him. It’s taken years to get here. And as a result, it’s our responsibility to amplify his voice- not speak for him.
Like I said, this is uncharted territory. People who have been involved with my kids are usually part of a united front. This is the first time I’ve had to be in full Mama Bear Mode and confront people who I trusted to fight for my kids the same way Crecer does. For someone like me who usually runs in the opposite direction of confrontation, it’s overwhelming. But. It’s a responsibility I have been trusted with. It’s our community that we’ve worked so hard to build with our kids so you can be damn sure we’re going to fight for it.