I have long thought that each and every adult has the opportunity, every day, to help grow a child’s imagination and dreams or at least keep the spark of the dream alive.
Unfortunately many adults don’t even know they have this power. They blunder through their lives wounding young souls, stepping on dreams, breaking small hearts.
The very first time I thought this, I was walking to work. I was on 11th Street when I heard shouting. A big, burly woman was leaning over a tiny child, screaming at him that he was stupid, that he was worthless.
I walked over to her, got between her and the little boy and told her to find someone else to hurt. If she wanted someone her own size, she could try me.
Time stopped for a moment. Her eyes glittered in her angry face which was inches from mine; her fists balled up and rose slowly. The little boy’s face was upturned, fear struggling with wonder at what was happening right in front of him. I waited.
Suddenly all the bluster went out of her. Tears welled in her eyes. Her hands dropped to her sides. She talked about her lost job, her failed marriage, her fear, her sorrow, her anger.
I put my arms around her and held her while she cried. Slowly, we both realized that the boy, her son, had wrapped an arm around her leg and an arm around mine and was holding on, tight.
The mother and I smiled at each other. We smiled at him. She knelt down, held him and said, “I’m sorry.” His face turned toward me, his eyes wide and his smile wider. When she stood, she leaned toward me, smiling, and whispered, “You have God in you. Thank you.”
I hugged her back, told her that if she ever needed help, I came by this way 5 days a week and would be there, for her. We turned in opposite directions and walked back into our separate lives. But there, on the corner of 11th and Filbert, outside the Greyhound Bus Station, the two of us had worked a tiny miracle – we gave love and laughter back to her young son.
I never saw them again, this mother and child, but I know that things between them were different after that day.
I always thought that moments like this one hold the power that each of us carries, within. I know that one word, one touch, one smile can make a change. Now, someone has written about the power of one adult to hold one child and help them reach for their dream.
I hope you enjoy this post. And I hope all the people in homes and schools, on street corners or buses, people everywhere understand that words, which we use so easily and hold so cheaply, can keep a child’s dream alive just as easily as they can kill it.
Think…before you speak, please. Speak when your words can help a child.