I recently went to the library to soak my mind with ideas for the Kids Gallery, and I came across a book called Smoky Night. I was struck by the beautifully painted and collaged illustrations, and after it sat around the office for a few weeks I decided to give it a read. It is a story about riots told from the perspective of a young boy whose house catches on fire in the midst of the violence. He makes observations of women and men stealing from the local stores. At one point, he fears he saw a”dead man with no arms lying there” until he realizes it is a plastic manikin. It is almost disturbing hearing the descriptions of destruction told from the eyes of an innocent child in a children’s book. Most stories have some sort of diluted plot meant to instruct children on some sort of topic like “sharing and caring” without placing it in reality. I am not saying either type of book is good or bad, but reading this one sure did make me face the reality that children are exposed to sadness, hurt, pain, and suffering in our world, no matter how much we try to shield them from it.
Last week, I hit a point where I was pretty disheartened when I recognized what some of the kids I work with experience. For some, it is poverty, for others, rocky situations at home. For others, it is being made fun of, labeled and judged. I have been trying to understand my role in helping the kids through those situations, if I have any role at all! I think the biggest thing that I would like to help them understand is the importance of self-responsibility.
I learned something in high school that has been on my mind lately as some minor conflict has arisen in the classroom. It is a formula called E+R=O, or Event+Response=Outcome. No matter what we do, conflict is going to come up, but how we respond determines the outcome. We are responsible only for our own actions, not the actions of others. This involves not only the interactions between the kids in the classes, but also my interactions with them.
I am excited about the impact I can have on the kids I am working with. Even though the camp is only 8 weeks long, and I only get to spend about a few hours a day with any given group, I know that even one small interaction can make a huge difference. The ways that I respond to the situations that come up can make a lasting impression. This week, I have become much more aware of how my actions influence those around me, and it is really cool to see the change that has arisen in my own life because of this. I am noticeably more excited, happier, and I care much more about the people around me than I did even one month ago. Praise God for that! I am so excited to see how much I learn and grow as I continue to work at the KAC, and how much more capable I will become to be able to love and serve the people around me in the midst of an often dark world.