Thursday, June 14, 2007

One Hour

It was only about an hour, but I'm exhausted.

If you've never spent time in your local county public health office, you can't even begin to imagine where I've been. You see, The Little Miss is on the WIC program. Not a big deal. She was on it before she came into the system and into our lives. Today, however, she needed to be re-certified. So did about 50 other kids.

This may have been the most multi-cultural hour of my life. Being a foster parent sure is stretching me. I am stunned as I sit here, that I can't think of a way to describe my experience without sounding racist or prejudiced.

Up until I began caring for foster kids, I lived a very sheltered suburban life. For many years now, all my circles of friends have been pretty much made up of white, Christian, married couples with kids. I still can't say that this has changed much, but the circles are widening. I am now interacting with people speaking all different languages, arrayed in many colors and with names more interesting than Jennifer with two n's. Soon I'm sure, I'll be calling some of these people, friend.

I remember a conversation years ago about diversity. I don't remember who it was with, but I'm almost certain in was in a bar. Those were some days, long ago. We talked about how all our friends looked and acted like us. We talked about wanting to have friends that weren't like us, but not knowing how to go about it without it seeming fake. You can desire diversity in your life all you want, but for a little white girl to suddenly show up in say a hair salon that caters to African American women and try to make friends would be weird at best. And, it wouldn't work. That's not how friends are made.

So how does one go about expanding their circles? I'm not sure I know the answer yet, but I bet it has a lot to do with expanding who you are. Taking on some new things. Things that your current circle of friends might think is insane. It's possibly part of the answer to life. So what if your friends think you've gone around the bend. Go do it anyway. Live some life. Don't just get through it, live it.

Back to the WIC office. It wasn't horrible by any stretch. It was really kind of neat. There were so many different groups of people represented there. Moms, dads and guardians. We all had kids with us. To a certain degree, we all looked the same. Casual dress and a diaper bag. At least one child in tow. We all were there waiting. Trying to be polite while waiting a really long time. Trying to keep our kids behaving well. We were all there because we want something good for these kids.

I've grown a ton. How do I know this? I wasn't afraid. I wasn't feeling judged. I didn't feel like people were watching me. Those of you that know me really well, that's huge.

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