everyday in my work i am awed by the sheer resiliency of children. what they are able to endure absolutely astounds me. no matter the socioeconomic status, no matter the parental head count, race is of no consequence when a person decides to survive there is nothing that can hold them down.
today i learned that one of my students recently revealed to a parent that at 7 they were forced to have oral sex with a teenage neighbor. the nightmare of the incident has haunted this child for nearly a decade. not to mention their predilection toward suicidality was always heightened, a first attempt made at 6 with a series of misdiagnosis and horrific medication ‘corrections’ that followed. however, no matter what horror they have endured in the world external and within a creative energy follows them in everything they do. this child is amazing and genius and determined.
i have decided after nearly 20 years of hearing about all the ugly inhumane things that have been done to children that a resilient spirit is something inherent in an individual’s nature. though there are times when a resilient spirit may opt to hibernate in the more compelling struggle of basic survival. one of my most favorite books and films of all time is ‘the color purple‘ by alice walker.
what you don’t see in this clip is the snippet right before when celie is hanging laundry and nettie implores her that she has to learn to do more than survive. celie having endured much abuse and humiliation has lain her resilient spirit to rest in an effort to stay alive. as a result of this interaction i have always associated nettie with an active resilient spirit while celie to me has always represented survival. though eventually celie is able to embrace her resiliency.
the ability of a child to maintain a sense that not only will i stay alive but i will thrive despite what is being done to them is something worthy of veneration. to be honest with you watching them move through life accepting awards in tatter clothes, showing up for interviews literally hungry, and heading off to college with nothing more than slip a paper and a suitcase gives me reason to praise.
i praise the spirit within every child who endures and then rises brushes off past injuries and excels beyond any expectation. i admire not just their gumption but the very heart of them that says, ‘this thing that is happening to me…this isn’t real…this isn’t true…what is true is that i am bigger. i am bigger than this thing that is happening and that is why it does not matter.’
i get goosebumps just typing the words. and when i am given the honor of looking someone in the face (and i’m given this honor everyday) i say thank you. thank you. and i know because resiliency lives this world will always have a tomorrow.