What do you see when you look at the drawing above? Just a simple doodle from a child about Christmas? Well I’ll tell you what I see, or saw – amazing kids eager to thank the friends of Fort Bend Women’s Center by drawing a special picture to be mailed out to people who support them through this tough time; a room full of children eager to capture the attention of anyone who will listen because the things that they may have seen or experienced currently feel like a big ball of confusion, especially around the holidays.
When I arrived at the shelter to draw with the kids for our Holiday cards this year, I was met with a ton of enthusiasm and even stories of what the bus had been like that day on the way home from school. One little girl was told by another child that she didn’t belong on the bus and that she would be kicked off. Another child was called homeless, but lied saying he really lived in a nicer neighborhood behind the shelter, just so no one would know his secret – the secret of being from an abusive home from which he and his mother had to flee, just to survive. At this moment, all I wanted was to hug each and every one of them, but that wouldn’t be professional, right?
Our great team of child mentors, who listen and assist with these needs every day, led them to a designated kids’ room where we all sat down and I explained that we would be drawing special pictures to send out to people in our community for Christmas. “Draw what Christmas looks like to you.” The ages of the kids ranged from 2 to 12. They each had a light in their eyes, a happiness to be a part of such a special project.
As the child mentors and I were circling, encouraging creativity, I noticed that one little girl was having trouble focusing. She was staring at a picture under the table so I bent down to offer encouragement, asking “What do you see when you think of Christmas?” 9-year-old K replied, “Last year Santa got me a Bake Oven,” to which I remarked, “I had one of those when I was little!” K then explained that because of her situation, she could not use her ‘bake oven’ until she had her own house again. And when she got her own house, she would bake cookies for me. She then showed me her picture, which had been hogging her attention. It was a photo of a family member holding her. She was clearly missing someone who meant a lot to her, no matter what happened at the adult level. Again, I wanted to hug her so tight! However, respecting her space is way more important. The innocence in this child hit me, you see, kids are non-judgmental, they see the world through rose colored glasses, unless or until that view is changed for them. In this moment, as I often do in my position, I discovered first hand, something else that our agency does – we attempt to reset that view for our tiniest clients. After all, it’s not time to remove those rosy lenses yet!
This day, the week before Thanksgiving, the kids were so happy to participate in such a special art project that was to be used for this year’s Fort Bend Women’s Center Holiday Card. They made beautiful art from their hearts detailing what Christmas meant to them. It was truly a special visit for me. But little did I know, the special part was still to come…
As I waved goodbye and walked toward the front door, 9-year-old K yelled out, “Wait! You forgot a hug!” She ran to me and hugged my hips so tight that it caused me to stumble. This brought two of the other children to run up and latch on for the tightest group hug ever! In that moment, I realized that they needed that hug just as badly as I did and I stood there as long as it took. I was so grateful for the acceptance and appreciation that embrace showed me. I got in my car and remembered why we do this work. It’s the connection with another human, little or big, the feeling of “doing good” and realizing that “doing good” goes both ways sometimes. Because little K did a ton of good for me that day too.
Please consider giving your own ‘hug’ to these special families by giving the Gift of Hope this holiday season. Together, we will have Little K back to baking in her ‘bake oven’ before she knows it! For more information on how you can help, click here.
Eva Rushing | Communications and Development Coordinator | Fort Bend Women’s Center