Wednesday, April 4, 2012

First Day of School

Though I have be working at the Hogar for a little over seven months, I don’t think I had really appreciated what it means to be a child who is living there. Until recently that is.

Part of my job at the Hogar is to accompany the kids to various activities. This can mean walking with them to school, going along on an outing to the park, or sometimes taking them to a doctor or dentist appointment.

On Wednesday afternoon I walked some of the kids to school. I didn’t think anything of it since I knew that the older kids had started on Monday, so I just assumed that all of them had already started. I dropped the older kids off first, then went with one of the four year olds to his preschool. I started to say goodbye to him, asking him if he knew where his classroom was. He said he didn’t so I walked with him to his classroom. When I entered the room, I was in for a surprise. The parents of all the other children were sitting around in the room waiting for the teacher. I started to get suspicious but it wasn’t until the teacher said “welcome to the first day” that it really hit me.

I was there playing the role of a parent for him on his first day at a new school! I listened hard, tried to keep him quiet, and mostly tried to keep myself calm and act like I belong there. But I knew I didn’t, not really. Your first day of school, especially at a new school is an important day. A day that you want to share with someone really important, someone who is a fixture in your life. It breaks my heart that he didn’t get to share his big day with his mom, like all the other kids in his class, rather that he shared it with me, a volunteer from another country who he only sees a couple days a week. I’m glad that I was able to be there to support him, but the wrongness of the whole situation breaks my heart.

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