As simple as cleaning a child’s fingernails

I recently had the opportunity to take advantage of being done with my morning clinic a little earlier than expected. I used those extra minutes to join my wife on her weekly Wednesday morning adventure in which she reads to a group of under-served elementary school children.

She had prepped me with stories of her assigned “boys” (three of them) not being able to sit still and pay attention, knocking over bookshelves, eating nothing but junk food, and worst of all — “not being able to read” the most basic of words.

As we waited for the students to get their lunches, we met another “weekly reading mentor” and he admitted that he was lucky to have the “good kids,” knowing that my wife had the troubled ones. I soon realized that the mentor for the two boys standing near me was not likely to show up today, so I decided to step into the role.

These two boys were quiet, standing still, had kind interactions with one another, and appeared somewhat eager to do some reading. I noticed many long and dirty fingernails instantly (it is admittedly a pet peeve of mine that was instilled in me at a young age…perhaps a little OCD that I have passed on to my own children).

As I got to know the boys, I discovered that they each had their own smartphones (and they were each only 8-years old!) and one of the children labeled himself a “youtuber.” I admittedly had never heard this term before. I was quickly saddened.

As we began our reading session, I could see these boys were terribly behind. Both in 2nd grade, yet reading as if they were in preschool, perhaps kindergarten. An atrocity of sorts. How could it be so bad? Where did this situation go wrong?

I knew I would be unable to fix their reading dilemma in one thirty-minute session. My heart was aching for them. I did not want to leave them. I was eager to do something. And thus I struggled.

I am not sure what I can do. I am unsure as to what the teachers and the school can do. But the parents? Are there parents? The boys told me they had them at home, and one boy told me that his mom makes him pancakes and eggs each morning before school. And they each had Iphones. Hmm?

And I just keep thinking about those fingernails………..

The home is everything, and in cases like this it means more than everything. If only our values were consistent.

Take a look around today, and see if you can contribute a little small piece of your time to do something for someone around you…

Stay blessed and always be eager to contribute.

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