Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There's a Reality to This Place Too

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in a bubble here at NPH, one that's full of birthdays and silliness and grand celebrations. It's easy to think that all of this is these kids' whole world, that they're just normal, innocent kids.

Except they aren't normal kids. There's a reality to this place too. Sunday was Visitors' Day at the house, and Visitors' Days always remind me of what these kids' lives are really like.

Four times a year, families of the NPH children can come visit their kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews for the day. Some kids have great relationships with their families, and they love these types of reunions. Some kids don't, and they'd rather not have to see the man or woman who abandoned them, abused them, or just didn't love them enough. Some kids get their hopes up and their best clothes on, only to receive no visitors, and some kids know that no one's ever going to come.

Even on a normal day at NPH, life isn't hunky-dory all year 'round. Every month, kids leave the house. They're kicked out for bad behavior, or they run away, or their families "win" them back, so to speak. We aren't always in the mood to talk about it, and I'm not always blogging about it, but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It's reality here too.

During Sunday's Visitors' Day, all within about an hour's span, we watched a boy laugh and play soccer with the dad who abused him so badly the courts ordered him sent here. I met a young woman who was kicked out of the NPH home a few years ago for getting caught with her boyfriend, and she was back visiting her four siblings still here. And then we chatted with a kid who was everyone's favorite but ran away from NPHG a few months back because he wasn't happy here. He was back yesterday just to visit the place he used to call home.

So of course it's more fun to focus on the crazy birthday traditions and the laughing and the big, fancy events, but there's also a reality that no one can ignore. A home like this, full of kids who have gone through so many different ups and downs, is bound to have ups and downs of its own too. But maybe then there really is something to the kid who ran away yet came back for Visitors' Day. For all its good and its bad, home is a place you keep coming back to anyway.

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