As do many, if not most, of the things I force myself to do.
The kids were great. There are twenty one of them living with their mothers in the shelter, and we had fifteen making colorful paper fish (with streamers on the tails, of course!) with the four of us who were volunteering. They ranged in age from two to nine (the age range for all the kids currently in the shelter is 6 months to fifteen years), which are ages I know well from having little sisters who either are that age now, or were not too long ago. I couldn't help but compare these children with E & H, wondering if the weight of what they've been through so early in their lives gave them a visible heaviness that my sisters don't have.
Some of their faces were tired or sad, while others were joyful and sparkling. I think this would probably be the case with any group of children. Children wear their immediate emotions for all to see, and you can't always tell how deeply the feelings run. It's probably impossible to know if these kids have already been scarred for life by what has happened to them and their mothers, or if their lives will move in a direction so positive that these days of living amongst so much bold heartache will slip from their memories entirely.
There was one little boy, three or four years old, whose face was so alive, he was almost glowing. I wish I could have taken a picture of him. I'm not sure I've ever seen a child with such expressive, happy eyes. He worked very hard on his fish, and laughed to himself while he did so, and I made a silent plea that he would stay that kind of boy even after he was old enough to realize how difficult life can be.
Emily was one of the girls at my table. She turned nine on May 26th and has two younger sisters who were at the next table over. She named her paper fish Timmy Tom Fish, and when she wrote the name across his colorful gills, I noticed that she is left handed like me, and holds her pencil in the same awkward way that I do.