Wednesday I visited the children of Safe Place here in Austin…
The first group of kids I played with were four to seven or eight. We gathered in a art/play area with lots of visual and educational decorations, big bright windows
and a group of happy hearts. These are kids who are coming from domestic violent situations, and are staying in this slice of heaven until their lives can, hopefully, be turned around.
When I first arrived, a little girl came streaking across the room, grabbed me by the legs all the while enthusiastically yelling, ” Sara Hickman! Sara Hickman!”; after which she insisted I close my eyes and sit on the bouncy chair ( a chair with a ball on which to sit…verrrry comfy!) When I was told I could open my eyes, there was a line of giggly children who burst into “I Got You, Babe”, the version I do with Billy on TODDLER…and it was about the sweetest thing you could imagine. I had big old gloppy tears in my eyes; after the singing was done, we had a giant group hug and much silliness ensued. Singing (for a while), story time (they wanted me to tell the pee-pee story…which one little boy corrected me on several times…he knew it better than I did!)…and then art time…we sat at the table and read their journals and talked about unicorns and castles and how the world has scary things and good things…and I would help one little boy with his fear of not being able to draw clouds while acknowledging another little girl
for adding a ball and lovely colors to a picture of a dog…all while
sitting next to a four year old girl with brain damage and hoping to win her trust
so we could interact.
The moment came when this child decided she could let go…and in that stillness, there was suddenly a song: Pterydactyl. She sang it to the tune of Frere Jacques, a silly rendition her sweet teacher, Skip, had made up to encourage her to sing.
She sang it to me, and then I sang it back with her, and we sang it over and over
and over and then I could touch her arm, softly, oh so softly, without her fearing she was going to be hit or violated…and we touched foreheads and smiled and I showed her how to make snow with a styrofoam cup…and there was love in that room, everywhere…
Then I went next door to play with the pre-schoolers…Wow! What an adorable bunch of children!!! I was immediately asked to sing “Scooby Doo”, which I attempted, and I realized I realllllllllly need to watch that show, just once! The kids tried to teach it to me, so I turned it into a bass-thumping rap and off we went…making music, telling stories, hugging and dancing…
I guess the point of this story is that volunteering is just about the best way you can spend an afternoon. It makes the world seem smaller and less overwhelming. It brings to life the thought that we are all connected, if not by time and space, then at least by heart and hope. There is so much to do.
What will you do with your time today? Where will you go and who will you touch?