On Friday, I heard that one of the regulars at the Project would not be there for the next week. She had been grounded from attending the Project, from computer, from cellphone, and from seeing her friends for the next week. The reason? She was caught cutting school by her older sister. This story was related to me in Portuguese with the help of Google Translate, so it took a a little while to catch the nuances of the story.
Is her Father in the picture?
What does her Mother say about this?
Ela sai. Há muito tempo atrás. Her mother exited her life a long time ago.
Why did her Mother leave?
Eu não sei. I don’t know.
I heard this story and was simultaneously shocked and not shocked. I was not shocked that this girl did not have a father (that is rather common in for the children who are in this community and attend the Shade and Fresh Water Project). I was not shocked, even, that even by the standards here, her story is especially tragic.
I was shocked at my reaction.
“Well, that explains a lot.” Was my response as I took this in this new information. No pangs of sadness for her situation. No anger at the immense, generations old, fucked-up system that creates these circumstances. Just a mental shrug as I filed this information away for future reference.
Humans have the ability to adapt very quickly to new things. It is what helps us to survive and thrive. And I have adapted.
My adaptation is a relief and devastating. In my lizard brain, I am deeply relieved because I can only handle so much sadness before I am paralyzed by it. But in my intellectual brain, I am grieving. I have come to accept, on some level, that a girl without parents is normal. Accepting a state of affairs is normal means giving up the unfettered hope and imagination of something different.
If my hopes and imagination are so fettered, how must be those of the kids I work with?