16 May 2022
A young girl from a dysfunctional family cut out a picture of a boat she found in a magazine and put it on the wall. During episodes of domestic violence, she would cope by imagining herself taking her younger brother with her and getting on that boat.
When she went down on her knees to scrub the kitchen floor, she imagined herself wiping the deck of her boat & making it shine.
This vision sustained her for many years, and kept her from developing self-destructive behaviour.
She would grow up, make something of herself & eventually owned a real boat!
This story has helped me in my dealings with young children, especially those from desperate circumstances when immediate escape was not possible.
I once gave a friendless young boy in a foster care facility a palm sized cat plush toy. It had travelled a long way from Finland to Singapore and got tossed about before it reached me, I told him. So whenever he felt lonely, he must remember to look at the toy to remind himself that he too would survive the hardship because there were people caring for him even if he couldn’t see them.
The next day when we met, the boy told me he had hidden the cat plush toy inside his pillow case so that it would be safe.
The one needing protection had become the protector!
As I was searching for pictures to accompany this post, a former student texted to say she has been accepted into a summer programme at a reputable university. She thanked me for writing her the letter of recommendation.
The girl who once needed a simple letter to help her get started will be studying & writing scores of far more complex materials to bring about a better world for herself and others.
So here’s wishing all adults to use whatever limited means we have to create safe spaces for our youth, and wish them well, so that unlimited and unexpected good may come through.