Guest blog post by Glenn Broch, DCF Southern Region Family & Community Services Director. He tells this story to help DCF staff cope with working with abused, neglected children.
A week ago, my wife and I had the pleasure of watching my 20-month-old granddaughter Emily. It was the first time we would be putting her to bed because her parents were going out to eat. Before dinner, we took Emily to the park, which is within walking distance from her house. She has a teddy bear named ‘Bo-ji’, (which happens to be the same bear her father had as a young child) that she wanted to take to the park with her. She also wanted to take her Elmo, so while she walked to the park next to my wife, I pushed the stroller with ‘Bo-Ji’ and Elmo strapped into the seat.
Emily wanted to swing at the park, so while my wife pushed her on the swing, I had to push ‘Bo-Ji’ and Elmo on the swing next to her, all the time wondering what the other kids in the playground were thinking about the old guy with the toy dolls.
After dinner, Emily wanted me to put on her favorite song (‘Brown-eyed Girl’), which we danced and listened to four or five times before it was time to get ready for bed. My wife got her into her pajamas, and then we took turns reading her favorite Bible stories to her. After that it was time for prayers, hugs, and lights out.
As Emily lay in her crib, cuddling with ‘Bo-ji’, I could hear her quietly reciting names – “Daddy, Mommy, Anma, Anpa (that’s me).” Whether she was praying or talking to her bear, I knew she was listing all of the people who surround her with love and take such delight in her.
I began to think about how this is what life should be like for a child – secure, happy, loved, always laughing, dancing … and then I thought how different it is for so many of the children we work with every day – frightened, abused, with sad empty eyes. I want all of the children in our community to have what Emily has. I want every child to know the peace and security that comes from having loving parents who tuck them in at night and make each day such a wonder. It is that thought that motivates me each day to recommit myself to make the world a better place for all children.
I challenge my DCF management team: When you become discouraged and tired, and wonder whether you can muster the energy to fight the daily battle against abuse, look into your heart and find your own ‘Emily.” Then determine that you will give your best to ensure that every child we work with has the same opportunity to be surrounded with the love and affection that Emily has.