THEY ARE ALL MY CHILDREN
Even the children who are not my children are my children. It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, and although I personally feel that that sentiment is both trite and misused, I still feel that every child that I have ever met or interacted with is, in some small way, my child.
My mom worked many years for the Department of Social Services. When I was an unruly teenager (somewhere between the ages of twelve and twenty), she would sometimes bring me along with her on house visits, and I got to see just how lucky I was, and how easy I had it. This burned an indelible imprint on my psyche, and fired within me the absolute certainly that every child alive just wants to be loved.
So the little boy in Spider-Man pajamas with the long purple stripes where the lamp cord had scored his neck, who hugged my knees when I gave him a stick of gum, he is my child.
The black kid with the hare-lip who could not say fire TRUCK, but was thrilled to get one at a Christmas party from a nineteen year old Santa, he is my child.
And the five year old girl who lived on the third floor back in the old neighborhood, snot running down her nose and scabs on her knees, who showed everyone her naked bum in exchange for nickels, she is my child.
The tow-headed kid with a mouth like a forty-year-old drunken sailor, who threw things at dogs and spit on adults, is my child. When my mom brought him home one night until he could be placed in a foster home, he could not believe that people actually sat down to a meal together, played games, or laughed aloud. I will never forget his simple thank you when I brought him a blanket and a pillow. He looked like I just given him the heart out of my chest.
Another of my children is the red-headed kid with the ears that stuck out like open doors on a taxicab, who, after failing the obstacle course at camp nine times, succeeded with just a little encouragement, and hugged me until I thought I would break.
The little boy whose father had been sexually abusing him so long that he was afraid of me just because I had a beard like his dad, he is my child.
The obnoxious stoner kid at the local corner store that looks like he regards me as an old establishment fart, he is my child too.
The toddler who lived next door to me, loud and unruly, who wanted to come inside my apartment and hang out when her mom was not home and would not take no for an answer, she is my child.
The whole gaggle of kids at a birthday party attended by my youngest daughter who – for no apparent reason, decided to call me Santa Claus and proceeded to tell me what each and every one of them wanted for Christmas, in August – they are all my kids.
The little ones who I taught to pour clay slip into plaster of Paris molds to form piggy banks and unicorns, learning to love the craft of ceramics, giggling and fiercely proud of their creations, Each and every one of them are my children, and I could not be prouder of them.
The twins from France, who could not speak a word of English, but laughed at my Sponge Bob Squarepants voice until they nearly wet themselves, they are my children.
Every single girl from my daughters Girl Scout Troop, who posed for pictures, held my hand as we crossed the street, got teased by me and teased me in return, and in general made me the unofficial dad on our trip to New York, they are all my daughters.
The two middle school girls who live across the street, Ashley and Caitlyn, who helped me to shovel out my driveway this morning, they are my children as well.
I could go on like this all day; hundreds, maybe thousands of kids that have caught my eye, touched my heart, or made my day, each and every one of them sharing this world with me and just by being here, giving me the opportunity to enrich both of our lives, just a little bit, by the interaction.
They are all my children.