Saturday, January 14, 2012

Charlie turns 10!

An acquaintance told us early on that we had little chance of ending the cycle of poverty for these 4 kids.  "Maybe for one of them" was her conclusion.  I refuse to accept that dismal prediction. 

Marquel is looking at a college preparatory high school.  Annie is on the A-B Honor Roll again and dreams of being a doctor.  Charlie admires pretty houses and nice cars.  Chip is as smart as a whip and has not been exposed to the hardships of his older siblings.

As Charlie turns 10, we think back to the little 3 year old boy we first met at the shelter.  His reaction to the trauma was to hit and kick, and even then he had to sit on my lap so I could hold his hands and feet while I read books to the kids.  He never stopped running, and after a few days he never stopped talking. At the time we had no idea that the trauma was far wider and deeper than Hurricane Katrina.

What could we expect from a little boy who was beaten, abused, neglected, and abandoned by his mother, seldom if ever had food (much less healthy food), had a new baby brother at a time when he desperately needed his mom, nearly drowned in the flood water, witnessed sites, sounds and smells that are difficult for adults to process, suffers from ADHD, and probably feels abandoned again by his step-father who was unable to cope with the behavior of a traumatized little boy.

According to doctors and therapists, by the age of 9-10, children have developed their personality.  When we look at Charlie now we see a little boy who is very attached to us, sweet, charming and athletic.  He has a great sense of humor and an uncanny ability to process and retain information.  He likes everyone and wants everyone to be his friend.

One would think that a child who has been nearly starved would eat anything, but we find the opposite to be true.  He never had the opportunity to grow accustomed to the tastes and textures of good food.  Little by little we are able to introduce new foods and hopefully some day he will understand the importance of good nutrition.
We have watched amazed as we see him try to tease another child into being his friend, is learning to keep his hands and feet to himself when frustrated or angry, and seldom uses the bad language to which he was exposed to so freely.  We have seen tears of sadness and love to hear him laugh, both of which were absent for so many years.  He fiercely protects his belongings and has lost the "disposable" attitude that can come with being given too much.  He is learning to deal with change, and how to keep himself organized, a big challenge for all ADHD kids.

At times we have questioned ourselves;  are our middle class standards and expectations too high?  But what happens if we lower the expectations - they will only come up to the bar that we set.  Only time will tell how much of a difference we have been able to make for these kids, and there will be a point for all of them where they will have to choose the right path to their goals and aspirations.  At least we have given them that option.

When I say "we" - you are an important part of that equation too - this is not something that we have done or could continue to do without your support.

Until next time....