I learned early in my job that the whole inner-city, working in the heart of the city or the “streets”, as many would say, requires you to get dirty, from time to time. The primary focus of what we do at Cross and Crown and Rock Island is based on and through relationship. Anytime you are in relationship with someone and really pour into the relationship, things are bound to get messy. The more time you invest with an individual generally leads to deeper relationship, which results in the letting down of walls and/or being real with each other. Then things just get messy.
Well, let’s just say this past Tuesday Israel, one of the Rock Island elementary students, and I really broke down some walls and got real with each other. Or, at least, he got real with me.
About fifteen minutes into a rowdy game of soccer with ten or so boys from the neighborhood, Israel and I found ourselves chasing after the soccer ball into the far corner of the backyard. As we were chasing after the ball I realized a couple things. First, Israel plays soccer on a daily basis and is hispanic (you do the math). Secondly, my team is losing, badly. And lastly, I outweigh Israel by 100 lbs. That’s right, I big-body Israel.
So, as Israel stumbles to the ground he puts his hands down in order to brace his fall. Luckily, one of his hands lands securely into a very moist, soft area, which lightens his fall. Not so lucky was the fact that his cushioned fall was because the neighborhood dog had laid a hot one minutes prior to our game. Gripes.
After I got rid of Israel and left him in a poopy mess I carved my way through four or five other little munchkins and scored the winning goal. Not really, but I wanted to. Once I realized the reality of what had happened I helped Israel up, with his clean hand, of course, and I escorted him to the bathroom inside of Rock Island.
As we approached the bathroom door I felt a slap on my back…Uuuuuuuh, surely that was a “good game” slap on the back from one of the other kids who was acknowledging my total dominance of Israel…I turned around only to see Israel smiling ear to ear and asked, “Did you just smear dog poop on my back?”.
“No’, he said as he whipped into the bathroom.
He lied. He smeared poop on the back of my t-shirt. Awesome. The only good news was that it was approaching closing time so I only had to rock the poop shirt for five or ten more minutes before I could go across to Cross and Crowns’ clothing room and change out of my diaper shirt.
See, I told you inner-city work was messy.
When I got home Mackenzie and I debriefed about how each of our days went and I told her she may have had to put up with alot of crap at work today but at least she didn’t get crap put on her at work.