Your Child's Village

originally in Abilene Families

As the initial school bells pealed this year, parents had varying emotions and approached the year with different attitudes, in different vehicles, and from various neighborhoods. However, as the paperwork filtered home, one thing bound us all together in a united brotherhood drowning in felled forestry: our loathing of the forms.

As a former educator, I recognize that (some of) the forms are a necessary evil that must be waded through. I believe that I even read somewhere that this year an effort was made to reduce the number of forms, but once I filled the same one out for athletics, band, drama, chemistry club, and my cashier at the grocery store, the effort was really lost on me.

Some of the questions on the forms stumped me, too. Questions that I know were meant to be easy: “Is Yiddish your primary language at home?” I mutter. I rant. I speak in half sentences. Whatever language that the children answer in, claim that one. I don’t know.

“Is your home a temporary living arrangement?” Well, that’s just a can of worms, isn’t it? First, we have high hopes that these people that require piles and piles of forms will move out and fill out their own forms some day. So, yes, this arrangement is temporary, Lord willin’.

Also, occasionally in church I sing a song about this earth not being my home, I’m just a-passin’ through, though I don’t believe having a heavenly home as a permanent dwelling is what the form is asking. I doubt there is even government assistance for that.

This year there was a new one that really stumped me. Next to all of the student’s contacts, you were to check a box next to the contact name if he or she was a “responsible party”. Hmmmmm. We sometimes eat popcorn for dinner and I have been known to leave my children at school forgetting it was my week for carpool. Can you really call me responsible? I checked my husband’s box.

Then, there were the blanks that make me freeze up every year. You know the ones - especially you military families that move frequently. Those dreaded “Emergency Contacts”. Not having family in town, my mind is as blank as the form before me as I consider who would drop everything to help my child were he or she to need it.

Sometimes I play Russian roulette with my cell phone and land on my dentist and my pizza place and call it good. Giving it a little more thought, I begin to realize how blessed I am.

An African proverb accurately states “It takes a village to raise a child”. While our villages today have more brick and mortar and drive-thru windows, the premise still holds true.

I consider the village that loves my family and have been our extended family here. People who have driven, housed, fed, partied, entertained, hugged, and loved my children are all on standby willing to be emergency contacts.

As a young person, I prided myself on being “fiercely independent”. Now as a not-so-young person, I realize what a handicap independence can be. Seeing myself as a member of my village I recognize the astounding value in the community that surrounds me: people and families each a different puzzle piece to complete the overall picture of my family.

Now the hard part is deciding which one to use as an emergency contact. While I do that, I shall be icing my carpal tunnel syndrome from filling out all those forms.

1 comment:

Bob said...

One summer, during the era you and Julie were roommates, Barb and I went on a trip, leaving Julie at home. As we were preparing to leave, I told her, "If you need help, call..." and thought about how very many people in our "village" she could call. We are indeed blessed.

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