We maintain traditions and keep focused on our core mission, especially in our COVID-19 world.
And I am celebrating, as a kiddo who has been in Tennyson’s residential program is going home.
To her mom.
She and I shared some Starbucks treats and chatted, as I love to do when kids move to a home from Tennyson. She wanted a venti iced vanilla chai, which seemed almost bigger than her, while I sipped on my no water non-fat chai.
And we laughed a lot.
This kiddo is young. She dresses up each day in great outfits and spends extra time experimenting with makeup that never masks her beauty but rather augments her bright face and personality. __ Red lipstick is common, and I think of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s refusal to wear neutral colors at her confirmation hearing as I watch this young girl refusing to be anything but bold. She is smart and has caught up in school, dreams big and refuses to let the story of her abuse define her.__
And she loves her mom! We walked around the Tennyson campus sipping our drinks and I said, “Tell me the thing you love most about your mom,” and she said, without a pause, “My mom never forgot me and will take care of me forever.”
My chai tasted a bit sweeter in that moment.
Her mom is truly a mama-bear. Her unwillingness to ever leave her child is exactly what every kid at Tennyson wants: people, many times moms and dads and CASAs, case workers, clinicians, and friends who refuse to look away and who believe in these kiddos even when others do not. Foundational relationships of support that strengthen kids, maintain connection regardless of the difficulties, and allow kids to continue on their healing journeys in community – instead of alone.
And she completed the last part of our tradition as she painted my wall and left her mark. Most kiddos paint pictures, use few words, and bring my office alive with paintings of butterflies, trains, and stained-glass windows that celebrate movement forward.
This girl, breaking from convention as she so beautifully does, decided to leave me a note that she says helps her every day.
Right in front of my desk, so I have to look at it as I work.
It reads, “Never regret a day in your life, good days are happiness and bad days are just experience.” with a heart and her little signature (hidden in this photo).
Wisdom that will strengthen me on all days.
She is going home to live with mom, and has truly left her mark on us all.