In the past 11 years of Pajama Program I have learned a lot about life from some very smart people: children. Some of the simplest, purest truths have been told to me by six-year-olds.
Here's what I mean. I will never forget two little girls who came to our Reading Center for the first time from a shelter for abused children. They saw our mural of popular storybook and TV characters with Dora and Boots, Elmo, Spiderman, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Big Bird, and The Little Mermaid. They were so excited to shout out the names of the ones they recognized.
The first little girl, who was six-years-old, took a good look at the mural and said to the older girl who was seven:
"You know, Minnie Mouse is married to Mickey."
The older girl replied, "No she's not."
With a firm tone and the confidence of a 40-year-old, the younger one looked the older one right in the eye and said:
"Oh yes she is."
And that was that. Now I know.
Sometimes it's an all-knowing statement like that one where I learn something valuable and sometimes the words of a child in need really rock my world.
I attended a holiday show this past Christmas season with some friends and supporters. The play was about Santa and his elves and their sleigh ride to bring all the children presents through their chimneys. The event was a benefit for Pajama Program and the attendees were asked to bring new pajamas for our local deliveries. We were given several free tickets to the show so we could bring some of the children we serve in our community. During the intermission I asked a little boy if he was enjoying the show.
He replied, "I like it, Miss."
Then I asked him if he had written his letter to Santa yet and he looked up at me and said:
"Santa doesn't come to apartments."
I turned my head so he wouldn't see my eyes tear up.
"Let's get you a snack," I said to him as I ushered him to the food table.
I took the little boy back to his seat with a sandwich and I told one of my friends what he told me.
"Maybe that's what they tell them," she said sadly.
If I could, I'd build one big chimney that goes to all their apartments so they're not left out, again.