A Measure of Our Success

For children and young adults faced with mental illness, mental health challenges, and for children and young adults who are abused, forgotten and alone, I offer a poem by Ina J. Hughes:

We pray for children
   Who sneak popsicles before supper,
   Who erase holes in math workbooks,
   Who can never find their shoelaces.

And we pray for those
   Who stare at photographers from behind the barbed wire,
   Who can’t bound the street in a new pair of sneakers,
   Who never “counted potatoes’,
   Who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
   Who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
   Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those
   Who never get dessert.
   Who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
   Who watch their parents watch them die,
   Who can’t find any bread to steal,
   Who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
   Whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
   Who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
   Who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food.
   Who like ghost stories,
   Who shove dirty clothes under the bed, and never rinse out the tub,
   Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
   Who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
   Whose tears we sometimes laugh at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
   Whose nightmares come in the daytime,
   Who will eat anything,
   Who have never seen a dentist,
   Who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
   Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
   Who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children who want to be carried
   And for those who must,
   For those we never give up on and
   For those who don’t get a second chance.

For those we smother … and for those who will
   Grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

Let us heed the admonition of Marion Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, who directs us to insert the promise, ” I TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR “ every time the phrase, “We pray”, is issued above.

Please offer your hands to all children, so that no child is left behind because we did not act.

Thank You Kindly,

Gail Louise

 * This poem excerpted verbatim from the last essay, entitled “If The Child Is Safe,” in Marion Wright Edelman’s book:  The Measure of Our Success, A Letter to My Children and Yours, 1992.