As a mother, I my initial instinct is to want Alex to have an easy life. It is easy to decide that I want her to have the best I can afford to buy her. What I want is for her to work hard in life and find success, not work hard in life and just barely squeak by. I want to level any mountain that this little girl comes up against (and yes, I realize I can’t flatten them ALL for her). This Christmas Alex is only two, and I refuse to set the bar ridiculously high by buying extravagant gifts or even vast quantities of smaller gifts. As a mother, I want to teach Alex about moderation and generosity. I could max out the credit cards this Christmas and buy her every toy that I think she will love (and believe me, there are tons out there). But, I want her to grow up knowing that yes, Momma may be able to get her some things she like, but that not everyone is as lucky as she is.
As a teacher, I have seen so many different kids come through my door. Many of my students who have struggled academically have also, coincidentally, struggled financially. Regardless of age, Christmas can be difficult for students who are financially underprivileged. These students know that they don’t have what everyone else does. They know that their parents will make do with what they have and they will just barely scrape by this holiday season. These kids won’t be getting iPods that cost more than my electric bill or pads that cost more than my car payment. Whether kids are in third grade or twelfth grade, they get it. And it stinks.
What I love about our town is that many of these underprivileged children, whether they be in elementary, middle, or high school, get a chance to do something really cool. Our police officers all get together and have an event called “Shop with a Cop”. These police officers walk around Wal-Mart with a child (one on one attention is always such a treat for kids), and they let the kids spend a certain amount of money (I think each kid can spend $50) on themselves or on Christmas presents for their families. I saw police officers and kids in the clothes section, the music section, the toy section and in sporting goods. What I enjoyed seeing the most was the kids and young adolescents engaging with our police officers in a positive and encouraging way.
These officers are climbing one of the hardest mountains we have in this country, which is tackling our poverty problem (others may disagree with me and say that we have more pressing issues, but trust me, as a teacher who has seen kids come in to her class genuinely hungry after a long weekend without school breakfasts and lunches, I know poverty is a problem).
Since today is International Mountain Day, I wanted to take a moment and just reflect on how blessed I am and on what a blessing these men and women were to our young children today.