BACK IN SCHOOL
For the last 10 years, during the school term, E.G. and I have met for lunch, every week.
Often, her school has been a new one. Sometimes…we’ve had major life events to share.
But, always, E.G. and I set aside time, to sit together and talk about her future.
E.G. will be 18 next month. When I began mentoring her for the Seedling Foundation, she was a cherub-cheeked, shy eight-year-old.
“Career Day” is a huge event at any school. For a child with an incarcerated parent, “Career Day” takes on added layers of meaning. It’s exciting. But, scary, too.
Imagine trying to think about the future without having an example as a frame of reference.
It can feel overwhelming.
E.G.’s school administrators asked me to speak at E.G.’s “Career Day,” probably because once I started mentoring there, they realized that I speak both Spanish and English. The administrators needed a lawyer to talk to the students about what that job entails. I think that it helped that I could answer the children’s questions in either language. It was just more comfortable.
A big group of adults paraded onto the school cafeteria stage.
There was a chef with his big chef’s hat. A police officer in uniform. A physician, with her white coat and stethoscope. We had a sports writer from the newspaper, with his notepad in hand…and a firefighter in her shiny boots and protective gear. The students packed into the cafeteria and sat shoulder-to-shoulder. The room was buzzing with chatter.
After each of us explained our roles, the principal grabbed a microphone and moved into the crowd of students. She was extremely tall with a commanding presence. When she would lean down to put the microphone under a child’s chin, the whole room seemed to take a collective breath and wait, to see what would happen next.
She randomly moved from one child to another, and asked, “Now that you’ve heard from the adults, what do you want to be, when YOU grow up?”
The kids were giddy.
“Teacher!” One of them shouted. “Mechanic. I want to work on cars,” said another.
And so it went, until the principal stopped at a child who was hunched down, head down, in a hoodie.
The principal couldn’t see the child’s face. None of us could.
So, the principal knelt down, and asked, “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?”
When the child looked up at the principal, the hoodie fell back on her shoulders.
It was E.G.
She looked at me sitting on the stage, and in the largest eight-year-old voice that she could muster, she announced, “I want to be a mentor.”
The world had changed for E.G. Maybe it happened that day.
Maybe it was before that day. I may never know.
E.G.’s world got bigger. And, it changed.
Mine did, too.
Be a mentor. It matters.
~ Martha Fitzwater Pigott
Each and every day, kids like E.G. – many kids – make their way through this world without the support they need.
Kids like E.J. grow up without one – or both – of their parents due to incarceration.
That’s where the Seedling Foundation comes in.
The Seedling Foundation trains and provides mentors to work with children who have parents in prison.
And we at Mic’d are grateful to help raise a voice.
All are invited to take part in Beyond Bars, a benefit concert for the Seedling Foundation. We’ve got some great bands, including Julian Acosta and the Reverent Few. And we’ll hear from people whose lives have been changed by the great work being done right here in our backyard.
You can make a difference.
We can make a difference.
Mark your calendars for Friday, January 27. We’ll be at the Rattle Inn in Austin, TX.
See ya next Friday!