Feeling connected to the children we serve is so important to all of us. In every box of pajamas and books we send to group homes and shelters we include a sheet called Pajama Program's Kids Blog sheet. We hope the staff there will ask a few children to let us know if they like their pajamas and books. We get quite a few expressive and sensitive letters from staff and the children themselves if they are old enough to write. Recently 12 yr old Tiffany wrote to us,
"I love yellow! It makes me feel happy. I never had a nightgown and I love my new one with little flowers. I feel so grown up."
I immediately pictured a shy, sweet 12 yr old girl twirling in front of a mirror wearing her new nightgown and a big smile. I'm glad I picture her smiling because to me that means she knows someone cares about her. That's what it's all about for these children -- feeling like someone cares.
Growing up is challenging, even for those of us with a stable home life and two loving parents. I know for me, my tween and teen years were fraught with mixed, and very passionate feelings. I fiercely demanded independence and yet I wanted both my parents to be a part of all my activities! One thing I knew for sure on those days between my rampages and my melancholy moments was that my family cared about me.
We don't have a lot of personal information about the children we serve. Some are going through the worst trauma you can imagine at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them. Others are victims of the system and in between permanent living arrangements hoping to find a "real home." Growing up for these children must feel terrifying, not to mention alienated and lonely.
How do we ease their fears? How can we embrace each and everyone of them so they have no doubt that we care? I've agonized over these "hows" and try to be at peace with it everyday knowing that in our small way we're giving these children the bedtime experience they deserve, even if from afar. To say we care for these children is an understatement. I know in my heart it's possible to love someone you've never met because we love these kids and will do whatever we can to get thousands more nightgowns to them, all in yellow.
Follow Genevieve Piturro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Genevievepajama