Monday, March 8, 2010

Saving Ourselves: On being a role model

Yesterday I experienced the strangest thing, and for some reason the more I think about it, the more upset & heartbroken I am.

My cousin pastors a small church that sits right in the middle of "the hood" and has a lot of kids from the area that attend. Yesterday they had a cookout to celebrate all the March birthdays, so my mom and I decided to ride by. As soon as we got out of the car, a little girl walked up to me, pointed to my dad & said, "You his daughter?" I was a little taken aback, simply because her speech and mannerisms were so... grown. I told her yes, and she proceeded to tell me how she was my little sister now, that she wanted to go shopping and for a ride in my car, and that if I had some old dresses that I couldn't fit any more, she would take them. "Oh, okay..." was all I could get out before she started rattling off things my dad told her he would get for her. My mom & I just kinda looked at each other. A little while later, I noticed her whispering something to my dad and he gave her a dollar. My aunt looked over and told her to stop asking people for money (apparently it was something she does regularly). When I left, she gave me a huge hug and wouldn't let go of my leg. Driving off, I thought "What a precocious lil cutie!" And yeah, I was kinda smug about the fact that she seemed to take a liking to me. I was ready to take her under my wing and turn her into "a princess just like me," as I told HWHNT.

But the more I thought about it, I was saddened by it. Sooo many questions came to mind because it really was unusual. She seemed both vulnerable and very cunning. Why is she so easily attached to people? What's the deal with the constant begging? (I know kids are prone to asking for stuff, but this went beyond the normal kid stuff.) What has she seen or heard to make her so comfortable with asking men for money? (My dad was not the only one she asked.)

Of course I can't pass judgment or say for sure what is going on in her life. I don't know anything about her situation. What I do know is that I feel compelled to help her. I don't even know how, and I have a feeling it's not going to be easy, but I have to. You can just see her potential, and her eagerness to be accepted and cared for could leave her open to anything if she isn't steered in the right direction. I've never really considered myself to be a role model, nor have I aspired to be one. My focus has always been on myself. But this is one of those situations where it's obvious that if I don't look out for "my own" there's a good possibility that no one else will. I know this probably won't be the big thing that saves the world, but it's a start right? If I can start with one who could in turn reach others... That's better than nothing. The ripple may be slow but it's better than not making any moves at all. It's easy to say what should be done, what others are doing wrong, what you would do if... But what is to stop us from being someone's role model, mentor, big brother/sister? I may not be famous or have stacks of money. But I have (a little) time, and some life experiences that I think someone else could learn from to avoid the mistakes I made. I have a sense of humor, and responsibility, open ears and an open heart. From where I'm standing, that's all I need to start.

1 comment:

25champ said...

We are obligated to help others it is Gods will and the fact that little girl left you feeling responsible to help is blessing in disquise. She may also be great for you as well. God works in mysterious ways and If you have a opportunity to lend a helping hand then you should. I think it's a great opportunity for the both of you. Great Post!