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Baby-sitting

September 18, 2006

I’m sitting in the second-floor family room of a West Philadelphia
oasis right now.  It’s hard to believe that this gorgeous,
three-story home with antique wood floors and trim, 
marble-floored bathrooms, and plush furniture is only a block away from
our tiny, dilapidated apartment.  

I’m baby-sitting the two adorable children of an obviously progressive
couple.  I say obviously because there is nothing but organic food
in the fridge, there is no cable TV, and at dinner, when Elsabeth,
Nicholas and I were discussing knights versus bad guys (the kids were
recently at a Renaissance Faire), Nicholas, who is five years old,
referred to the bad guys as the Bush Administration.  

When we were reading a bed-time story, Nicholas again impressed me by
declaring that ice-cream doesn’t make people feel better after we read
that the little kids in the story offered their toy bear ice-cream
because he was sick.  Nicholas told me that only good food makes a
person feels better.

Nicholas and Elsabeth are beautiful, blessed children.  They have
loving, concerned parents, a comfortable home, and hundreds of books to
page through even though they can’t read yet.  I wonder, though,
how sheltered they are here?  What do they know of the city around
them?  What will they know of it growing up?  I always
figured that I had a sheltered childhood growing up in State College,
but being in this house makes me realize how sheltered a person can be
from reality simply by being behind closed doors, even if reality is
right at the doorstep.

If only all of Philadelphia’s children were able to experience the
enriching youth that Elsabeth and Nicholas will experience.  I’m
glad that Paul and I will have the opportunity to provide enrichment to
kids without access to Elsabeth and Nicholas’ privilege by teaching
Saturday school at the KIPP Academy.  The kids we met on Saturday,
our first day of class, were just as bright, beautiful, and
enthusiastic as these children I’m watching here tonight, and they are
just as deserving of a good education.

Addendum:

When the mother and father returned home from their dinner, I mentioned
how cute the Bush-as-the-bad-guy statement Nicholas made had
been.  She pleaded guilty to brainwashing her children against the
Bush Administration, and added that when Nicholas gets really mad at
her or her husband, he’ll threaten to vote for Bush!!

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