I can’t get those men out of my head.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the impact of positive early childhood experiences. Studies continue to show investing in early childhood significantly aids in reducing crime, raising earnings, and promoting education. Although not as deeply researched we do have evidence of the importance of raising children from pre-birth in a faith community to support their moral, ethical, decisions as well as rooting them in a positive self-identify. Preferably, every young child should have access to high caliber  early-learning experiences before kindergarten, despite the financial circumstances of that child’s family. Preschool can cost as much as $1,000 a month; sometimes it costs even more. In most states, daycare costs more on average than college . The high cost helps explain why more than half of the country’s 3- and 4-year-olds miss out on preschool. During the 2012-13 school year, only 28% of the country’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded pre-k programs, according to data from the National Institute for Early Education Research, or NIEER. As I sit in local Community Action Committees I hear no discussion of how to provide quality education programs for vulnerable groups such as homeless fragile families .

I recently toured the Missouri State Penitentiary. I witnessed many positive productive programs leading towards rehabilitation. I am haunted that the majority of those inmates will never be rehabilitated again for life outside those prison walls. I talked to 5 men, all convicted for violent crimes, all who live the reality that they can never make up for lost time from their victims or their families. I believe strongly in consequences for our behavior and do not doubt their punishments fit the crimes. However, what I can’t get out of my head is what intervention was needed not just 20 years ago when they committed their crime but 15 years before that when they were toddlers and preschoolers? What investment was made into their brain development, educational attainment, and social expectations? Long term studies show us the positive impact preschool and school readiness programs have on deterring adverse behaviors in drug and alcohol abuse which can eventually lead to prison.

And yet we can’t find the money to fund proven programs like Head Start and Parents As Teachers. These are the conclusions that my brain cannot accept especially when I cannot get those 5 inmates faces out of my heart.

I have no solutions other than supporting early child hood programs that are available to all through our schools and churches.

What are your thoughts? How do we fund this? Is this a priority for our children?

Happy Birfday Erica

In honor of Erica’s Birfday I am eating sub par Chinese buffet in DC by myself. I’m not sure why I keep trying Chinese buffets and tempting the fates but I do. I’m pretty sure Skrivan would let these people know buffet usually indicates warm and does not leave your guests wondering if the sushi is going to revisit your toilet a few hours from now. Time shall tell. Cheers to Scrivans and her Birfday! 

One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to not take up space that is available. For most of my life I blustered into people’s lives as a force of nature. Take me or leave me you get what you get. I’ve tried to dial myself back just a click or two. Not remove myself but be stiller, calmer, more present. 

A young lady in my life uses humor to defer and deflect the grief in her life. So much so you wouldn’t think she has endured tragedy, assault, or abandonment. With the exception that she moves fast and talks fast. Too fast for much human touch or interaction. 

In the past week she began a very odd dance with me. She began to connect with me by choreographing my movements. She would place her hand on top of my arm and place it on her shoulder or pick my hand up and place my hand on her other hand. It was if I was a mannequin she was staging in and around her personal space. 

Today I was saying good bye and she look to delay me by thinking of ways to continue our conversation. She once again put her hand on top of my arm and seemed to try to absent mindedly to rest her cheek on the back of my hand. Just as if a mother were  to gently brush a child’s face. 

These interactions are very brief and momentary. But the intentionality of this young woman seeking gentleness in a controlled manner speaks volumes to me. If I were to initiate this contact it most likely would be denied. But in trying to just be present and available I am blessed to see and be a part, I believe, of a little soul and heart healing. 

We all need to connect to others. We all have the basic need of comfort and tenderness from human contact even when most of what we have known has been measured and brutal. I think our challenge in this world is to be generous in our love and to love others in their language not ours.