Like most parents, I spend a fair amount of time worrying about my child. Most of the time, it’s just day-to-day stuff – will he get into trouble at school today? will he do his work? will he get along with his classmates? Sometimes, my mind is preoccupied with larger questions, usually about how M will fair in middle school, high school and beyond.
Although I’ve had a few desperate moments with M where I wasn’t sure what to do, we’re very fortunate. We have access to resources to help both M and our family; we live in a safe community and M attends a great school with dedicated staff and teachers. We have the financial resources to clothe, feed and provide a roof over our family’s head.
Just how fortunate we are was struck home for me today when I heard on the news about the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old girl living in Pakistan. Malala has been actively campaigning for the rights of girls to education since she was 11 years old. The Taliban had declared that she had “…become a symbol of Western culture in the area.” and decided to kill her. Malala survived the attack and hopefully, she will recover.
It’s impossible to make a fair comparison between what happened to Malala Yousafzai and the challenges that M has faced and will face in the future. By any measure, M is a privileged child. He’s also a boy. While boys are not immune to victimization (witness the tragedy of child soldiers in Somalia and other countries), around the world, girls are particularly vulnerable. I am fortunate to know a number of young women, including my own nieces, who are amazingly talented, compassionate and enthusiastic about the world around them. It’s awful to think that all girls still don’t have access to basic rights, including education. It’s generally accepted that educating girls and women is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in most countries.
Some days, the world seems like a pretty grim place. I’m at a loss to explain how any adult could deliberately go out and harm a child, whether she or he is living in Pakistan or Pennsylvania. Those are the days I count my blessings. Yes, M good and bad days. His bad days are fewer and farther between than even a couple of years ago. His
psychologist has suggested that adolescence will probably bring its own set of concerns and frustrations. From where I sit tonight, with my sweet boy tucked into his warm, comfortable bed, life is good. Sometimes, it’s all a matter or perspective.
October 11, 2012 is the first International Day of the Girl. In recognition of Malala and girls around the world, please consider making a donation to an organization that advocates on behalf of the rights of girls, such as Plan International.