Do you remember the old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child?” Well I’m sure most of us find this statement to reign true. It’s very important for your child to know his community as well as it is important for the community to know your child.
Let me share a little story with you.
My son was born at 27 weeks gestation. He became very ill when he was about a week old. After a 3 month stint in the NICU we were able to bring him home. Just over 3 months old, weighing all of 3.2 lbs, a third of his gut removed, leaving a tiny stoma peeking out from his abdomen; mild lung decease, needing to be on a liter of oxygen and post brain hemorrhage, our primary concern was to keep him alive. We stayed mostly to ourselves the first couple years, going out only when necessary. Because Hunter’s little body was so frail and susceptible to colds and flu, he was unable to play with children or be taken around crowds. I quickly learned how to navigate our community so Hunter’s contact with people was minimal. I paid bills online, utilized drive through banking and curb side grocery shopping. I even found a little convenience store that had a drive thru window. We’d also take long, late night, out-of-the-way rides to a 24hour Wal-Mart. It was effortless turning regular errands into mini adventures for Hunter and me.
After several months, we could venture into stores during day light hours. We had so much fun. The people working in our local stores had gotten to know us well and were quite accustomed to our frequent visits. Sometimes they’d take time to play with Hunter in the aisles and give him treats while we shopped. The ladies at the deli would always ask us to stop by so they could give Hunter his favorite snack, fried okra.
When Hunter was a little older and stronger I decided to take on a part-time job. I was given a flexible schedule so I could bring him with me after hours. As Hunter continued to get better and job duties increased it was time to utilize our local Community Service Program. This is a program offered to provide a worker to take care of your child for a few hours a day, as needed. I was not thrilled about leaving my baby with a total stranger. We met a young lady who turned out to be a good match for my son. She was wonderful with him. Being a little over protective, I left strict instruction not to leave the house and provided more than enough provisions for any caregiver and child to manage. This went on for about a year. Well…I did say I was a little over protective.
One day, soon after our first year with Hunter’s caregiver, Jeria; I decided it was time to give her permission to take Hunter on a little outing at our favorite grocery store a few blocks away. Little did Jeria know that she was in line for the shock of her life. I must admit, I didn’t see it coming either, but was rather amused and pleasantly surprised.
That afternoon Jeria prepared Hunter for their little outing. As soon as they walked through the sliding glass doors Hunter was met with huge smiles and greetings, but the staff did not recognize Jeria. They’d only seen Hunter with me. It didn’t take long for a few of the cashiers to corral around Jeria and Hunter on a nearby aisle. The ladies began talking to Hunter, “Hi sweetie, are you okay?”,” Who’s this lady with you?”,” Where’s mommy?” And then they turned their attention towards Jeria. Jeria was grilled for several minutes until they were satisfied Hunter was okay. Poor Jeria had never experienced anything like that before and didn’t know what to think. She was so thankful the ladies didn’t beat her with canned goods and call the police.
When I came home to the news, all I could do was laugh and enjoy the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that there are others out there who are looking out for my precious little boy.
Thank you village.