Last week on the day it was pouring rain, I ran various errands and had a car full of food I picked up that morning. It seemed as if I ran in and out of my house in the rain a million times, but on one of those times the door to the house slammed behind me and I got locked outside.
My keys, my phone, everything was inside the house. I was standing in the pouring rain, soaking wet, late to pick up my children, trying to figure out what my next steps should be.
I tell my girls in Juvie that they hold the keys to their future and they need to use them!
“But, Ms.,” one said to me, “my keys don’t open shit. All the doors always close in my face.”
As I stood outside my locked house , wet, my children waiting for me, I used the keys that I have in life. I called a friend from the neighbor’s phone. She ran to get my kids. I got a locksmith, paid an exorbitant amount of money for him to help me . . Forty-five minutes and $175 later, I was dry, my kids were home, I had a new lock and all was well. I can do that. I have privilege ,
the privilege to do that.
My girls in Juvie have nothing. I worry that having keys isn’t enough.
You see, keys are tricky. They need to fit exactly into the lock they are opening. If the key doesn’t fit, no matter how hard you try, that door will not open!
We tell these kids that they need to conform to our rules. They need to do this and that to fit into our world, but can their keys ever really fit our locks? Is it even fair to make them try? Isn’t it time we start to fit their keys?
I know from locking down . I do that when I am hurt or angry. Very few hold the keys to my heart and soul. I know how to put a bolt on that one.
Recently, I was hurt by someone I love deeply. I went into total lock down . And then, a different friend asked me to be the speaker and introduce her at her installation to a board she recently joined. She said kind words ,she was sweet and loving and right there, without even knowing it, she was the key.
I started crying and was so emotional that she was surprised. I mean, it isn’t as if she is being sworn in to be the President, but for me what she did and said was THE key I needed THAT day to feel good and unlock my sorrow. She made me feel good and important and that ,well that ,was the master key. Truthfully ? kindness, love and compassion, as schmaltzy as it sounds, always are the master keys, and can usually open even the most complicated of locks.
“The choices you make are the keys to your future,” I say out loud with conviction.
My beautiful girls in Juvie look at me filled with hope.
“You can be someone. You have such great potential!“
It gets quiet.
They look at me with belief and disbelief at the same time.
“This, being here, in this place, is a hiccup. It will be a memory, if you do the right thing and make the good and wise choices.”
Their faces are so filed with hope. For many this is the first time anyone has said anything like this to them.
My heart breaks a little, because it is so hard, so incredibly hard for them. I am holding that master key, telling them, believing in them, and showing compassion.
All the time knowing , that what awaits them on the outside,is so insanely hard .
I have seen so many fall back deep down into the hole!
I also know that even the most glorious of master keys will not open a broken lock.
I sigh and look at these girls and today I find myself a little less optimistic than usual.
And then, one of my girls came over to me.
She showed me the most remarkable envelope her boyfriend had sent to her.
It had a drawing of hands and the words “faith, love and hope.”on it .
It was beautiful!
“Wow,” I said, “That is amazing! Can I photocopy it? I really like it !"
She walked proudly with me to the office.
I photocopied the envelope and went outside to give it back to her. She was so happy.
“Can I do your program on the outside, Ms.?”
“Of course, you can! You just need to call me when you get out.”
“Oh, I will! “
I so hope she does, because they all say this ,and so many don’t.
“The door is always open,” I say.
And right then I realized that it’s not about the locks or the keys.
It’s about leaving the door open and having the courage to walk in.