Wrong Turn

First Day of Kindergarten as it ought to be

First Day of Kindergarten as it ought to be

For the most part, I refrain from ranting on this blog, but I can’t let this issue go without speaking up. 

DIL Kelly berated herself for three minutes of panic by grandson Owen at the end of his first day of kindergarten. The school bus, on the return trip home, turned left as it entered the circle drive around their housing area instead of right as they normally turn. He burst into tears when the bus headed away from home and Mama. His short-lived terror ended soon when the bus completed the circle and stopped at his driveway where Mama waited, eager to hear how his first day had gone. Kelly, distressed over those three minutes, commented, “I should have told him the bus might go a different way.” I heard Owen’s story on the same night that the news reported the largest ever number of detained undocumented workers, leaving many of their children returning from school to homes emptied of parents. Normal child services were neither informed nor prepared for this.  

I thought of Owen as I listened to the nightly news. As I pictured these children, like Owen, who loved their mamas and daddies, coming home without that security and love waiting for them, to anxiety that lasted much longer than three minutes, my own emotions waffled between tears of heartbreak to being “so angry I could spit nails,” as we say in the South. I can’t even fathom how children coped while churches and social organizations jumped into action to try to alleviate their trauma. Volunteers and neighbors showed up at the gym where many had been off-loaded to take children into their homes. Yet even at its best, the charity and love of strangers was a poor substitute for coming home to sit in the lap of a loving parent.    

I don’t have the answer for the immigration question, but I know the responsibility for finding it belongs to adults – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, whatever the label – with the possibility that some wrong turns may be made before the problem is solved. The resolution must come from grownups who talk and listen to each other. Could it be that they might even seek a way back to the dream of Emma Lazarus inscribed on our Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Immigrants throughout our history have used that welcome to contribute to the arts, medicine, science, business – to fields that have made life better for us all.  

One thing I know for sure. We have taken a major wrong turn when the price for our failure to find a solution is paid by five-year-olds who just want to sit in Mama’s (or Daddy’s) lap and tell them about their first day at kindergarten.