Was passing through the Caffeinated Thoughts blog and saw this post, titled “Page 123 Meme.” Even though I wasn’t tagged as part of this meme, and thus under no pressure to follow it or to tag anyone I knew, I was intrigued.
The idea is to pick the book nearest to you that has at least 123 pages, go to the 123rd page, find the fifth sentence, and then post the next three sentences after that.
Out of curiosity, I grabbed the closest book, the science fiction novel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell, and flipped to page 123 (by the way, this book is a sequel to Russell’s The Sparrow, that previous book being far superior…but Children of God is damn good, too). I worked with the assumption that in finding the fifth sentence, I should only count complete sentences and not the partial one that starts off the page.
What I came up with was:
“Her parents ignored her. Best thing that could have happened! They were so busy fighting over Carlo, they never got around to making a mess of their daughter.”
And I thought, “What the hell? Might as well make that the kicking off point for a blog post…” And, as it happens, it actually fits into a new position my wife has just taken on.
Sometimes, perhaps, it is better when a bad parent simply ignores a child. I’m not offering that up as advice, mind you. I think that bad parents should strive to be better ones. I think that parents who choose to ignore any of their children should wake the hell up and start paying attention. We should all seek after love and aim to give love to our kids.
But having said that, some parents can only hurt their children. And if a parent is abusive, or emotionally toxic, or a hopeless addict, or in some other way only fit to screw up a child, maybe it’s better for the child to not get much from that parent.
The problem is that the child is ill-equipped to raise himself or herself. There are exceptions of course, but by and large a child left to his or her own devices and denied the love and support of at least one parent will end up screwed up anyway. Whether more or less screwed up than the effed-up parent(s) would have made them, who knows?
For this reason, it is critical that we be there for those kinds of children.
Mrs. Blue just started work for a Christian-based organization that provides a place for at-risk preteens and teens to hang out for a few hours each day, get a snack, be safe and get some positive reinforcement from people who do care. As my wife has discovered, many of these kids have parents who really don’t give a shit about them.
But we cannot rely simply on organizations like that to do that work. If you know a relative who is a physically or emotionally absent parent, and the other parental partner isn’t any better, step up and be a role model or a supporter of that relative’s kid or kids. At least try.
If you are in a position to interact with kids in the neighborhood and not be mistaken for a child molester, keep any eye out for those who seem to want or need a connection with a sane adult and who don’t already have one at home.
Volunteer for organizations that help at-risk kids. Be a mentor or Big Brother or Big Sister.
Not all of us can do these things. But all of us should look to see if we can, and we should be open to the possiblity of doing so if the opportunity arises. Everyone who does step up is one more person who might be able to save one more kid from a destructive path.