I’m in a meeting with Royal Family KIDS’ National Directors from around the world: Ghana, Namibia, Poland, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, the UK, Australia. All work with children of trauma.
The stories I’m hearing of neglect, abuse, and abandonment. Orphans living in Lord Of The Flies institutions with teen ringleaders bartering young girls like chattel to get drugs.
In some countries, there are no child protective services to keep the children safe. Refugee children living in tents. Children walking hundreds of miles with parents trying to seek asylum in safe countries. Four-year-olds wandering the streets.
But in the midst of hearing these realities, my mind drifts back to my own home.
Mostly what I’m thinking about are the millions children of privilege, “protected” by parents believing them too good to fail, stressing external success at all costs, shielding them from the painful realities of the real world. The facade of the “top university.”
Making sure their children stay away from “problem” children whose poverty or lack of education or broken home or blue-collar parents won’t lead them upwardly toward “success.”
Making sure their children spend more time on teams or with tutors or with coaches or in safe church youth groups — “safety,” versus the danger of a holistic life. Worse, the parents who will at all costs give their hight schoolers free reign to alcohol as long as they secure their desirable university.
Keeping them away from the poor kids. The neglected, abused, abandoned.
I once had a choice to send my own children to the local public school where 70% of the children were English learners from south of the border. Poor kids. The other choice was protecting them through homeschooling, or the local private school with all the children of rich white families.
I went to an expert for advice: A professor friend from UCLA who was on a panel of the UC Board of Regents, dealing with undergraduate education in the UC system. He was educated at the most elite private schools in France and did his Ph.D. at Oxford.
“Send them to the PUBLIC school. The diversity and dissonance and culture and language and the diverse sociological and economic standing will educate them far more than anything else.”
We obeyed; we tried the public school.
For one whole month.
Then I chickened out.
In any case, off they went to private and charter schools.
It could have been because I liked the status of sending them to the “better” schools, if I’m honest.
I was guilty, too. I wanted everything to be certain. Especially the well-being of my children. I want to “protect them,” too.
But I’m realizing that what we think is best, often isn’t. The brokenness of humanity and close proximity to pain and grief is perhaps the greatest education of all.
Richness has a poverty about it, poverty a certain sense of wealth.