My 6 year old daughter screamed for a solid 45 minutes this morning. Why? Her tummy hurt. She had a headache. She was tired. The bottom line: she didn’t want to go to school.
“Can someone help us?” I asked, more than frazzled.
I managed to dress and feed her, but she ran and hid under her blankets while her brother strapped into the car. She resisted, kicking and screaming, while I pried her small hands from the bedpost. As I turned the ignition key, she struggled to unlock the car door. She continued to howl during the short drive. When we arrived at school, her face was red and swollen from crying. By then we were late and had to be buzzed into the new high tech building.
A kind teacher stood beside us while I explained what was happening. My daughter begged me, her big hazel eyes filled with tears. “Please, Mommy… Can I go home with you?” Her lower lip quivered when I shook my head and the teacher led her to the classroom. My daughter’s frame looked tiny as they walked away; I wanted to run after them and pick her up in my arms.
I felt like the worst mother in the world driving home. When my children were babies, I was horrified at the thought of letting them ‘cry it out’ at bedtime. It goes against my instincts not to comfort a distressed child. However, I’m aware that I don’t want to set a precedent. It’s only the second full week of school, and it’s important for children to grasp that education isn’t a choice. As with most things, I recognize it's necessary to look at the bigger picture.
Still feeling unsettled, I went online to distract myself while drinking my morning coffee. That’s when I discovered The Girl Effect! This project is so inspiring and spoke to my heart. It’s based on the principle of investing in girls to change the world for the better. How do we do that? By educating girls worldwide.
My daughter is privileged to live in a society where she is given an equal opportunity, and school is something taken for granted. My white American mother left school at the age of 12, due to circumstances beyond her control, and experienced the hardships of life without an education. Many people tend to think these things only happen in developing countries, but people can fall through the cracks everywhere, regardless of skin colour or creed.
Every day of my childhood my mother repeatedly said, “Robin, do your best at school. Learn as much as you can now, while you have the chance.” Her voice held such gravity that I understood we were discussing serious business. Looking back, I realize my education is the best gift she gave me.
Every girl should be given this gift. If you feel the same way, learn more about investing in a girl. For once, that doesn’t translate into donating money. Share, connect, and mobilize. It’s that simple! The Girl Effect organization states:
“We don't want your money. We want your VOICE! The Girl Effect is a movement: it's social change in action. It’s about you using your voice, your talents, and your community to help girls help themselves—and, as a result, everybody else. The secret behind the Girl Effect is that it’s not one large campaign – it’s hundreds of thousands of small campaigns started by girl champions all over the world!
Change starts with you. Together we really can make the world a better place.