Before I became I mom I could watch Peter Pan and Newsies with no issue. I even found them enjoyable. But since I had the boys, I find that I can’t get past the lost boys. In Peter Pan there are these little dudes dressed in animal costumes and they all are yearning for a Mother. Newsies…children working so they don’t starve. Most are homeless and orphans.
Those movies literally break me a little bit inside. I can’t stop looking at my sons and touching them and hugging them and kissing their heads, telling them I love them. Then sometimes my eyes well up, and Declan looks at me like I’m nuts. Jackson likes to ignore anything going on around him. Then I have to walk away.
If you aren’t familiar with Newsies it’s about boys who sell newspapers who go on strike. There are great songs, and in one they chant “Strike, Strike, Strike,” so now my two year olds run around pumping their fists saying “Stike stike stiiiiiikkkke”. It’s funny because I grew up watching Newsies and was totally obsessed with it also. But it’s not funny because then I just picture my sons alone and starving and fighting to survive.
I know it still happens today because I see it in my work. I talk with kids who have been beaten and who maybe still will be going home to face being beaten. I talk with kids who make a choice between being homeless, going into the system, or going home to be abused. I talk to adults who have survived a childhood of abuse and/or homelessness and neglect. These are our neighbors and our friends who maintain a careful facade to avoid interaction with authorities. Then when I do call authorities they often either refuse to investigate or investigate and do nothing preaching family unity and maintenance.
Some people survive being lost and eventually find themselves and becomes these amazingly resilient individuals who do amazing things with their lives. Or even just ordinary things. These are people you see at Christmas parties or perhaps are your kid’s teacher or coach. We are all surrounded by survivors. I know because I have the privilege of hearing their stories. So often I find myself saying, “Look at how far you’ve come. You are epic.”
But there are those who are lost who remain lost, who perhaps get into drugs and live and die on the street.
The family of two lesbian mom’s and their adopted children who drove off a cliff. Their history is that of failures by the system to come to the rescue of their children. Could you not see the fear and anguish in that viral photo of their son clutching a police officer? So close to help, but so far.
For now, my sons will continue to watch Newsies but I’m taking a break from Peter Pan. The skunk costume gets me. I hug them every chance I get, and I pray they will never be lost.