I looked at this little note on my desk today and had to say “yes”…
Cottages are where the children live with us at the Tennyson Center for Children if they are not able to live with their parents, their kin, a foster family or other family-like situations. The reasons vary for their separation but, as a result, our cottages are bursting with amazing children — artists and poets, comics and athletes — shy, insightful, outgoing, and joyful, and all the beautiful blends in-between.
The kids at Tennyson have considerable experience with trauma from abuse and neglect and refuse to be defined by their story.
No, they have made the decision to chart a new course for their lives and I am frequently awed by their decisions and movement forward.
And, like all of us, they are also unsettled as COVID-19 has spread across the news and into all of our daily lives. It has rightly forced Tennyson to shift direction for the safety of children and staff, and we have made the decision, among other things, to limit direct contact to their networks as a precaution to shield them and our staff as much as possible from COVID-19.
We are buckling down for a longer period of time to do our part to create social distancing, and it hurts.
Trauma does not take a break, but we need to retool so that the support they need is available. Just not as much in person as we would have liked.
Kids at Tennyson thrive on connections. And that, for all the reasons we all know now, is being restricted.
I watched today as kids on our Tennyson campus leaned in to support other kids who are having a hard time. I marveled at how staff showed up today with the message that while kids and families are struggling, that each one of our staff are built for exactly this moment.
As one staff member said this morning after I thanked him for coming in to work under such uncertainty… “easy decision to be here, kids and families are looking to us and they will see me”.
I said “yes” to the note and headed out to visit the cottages.
And truthfully and perhaps selfishly, I gained strength by watching our team at work on the playground, kids supporting each other, and cottages full of children (some at least) that at one point in our history would have been called orphans who are guides navigating unsettled times.