Picture it. I am in a surgical office last week with my 16 year old CASA kid. The sequence of events is: remove 4 wisdom teeth, get braces back on in July, get jaw broken upper and lower in 4 months to fix it. Sounds easy until you spend 3 million hours with Doctors and Medicaid to get it approved. But here we go…step one. She acts like she is going in for a manicure. I am unglued. I go into the room after she gets her gown on. The nurse asks if she had any previous operations. “Just child birth” she says (at age 14). The nurse tells her she is about to stick the needle in her hand for the IV. My heart is pounding. As the needle goes in, I feel it. My eyes fill with tears. I think, “Get a grip, get a grip, get a grip.” About 30 seconds later she looks over at me and says, “Are you tearing up??” I say, “No, don’t be silly.” She says, “Yes you are! You are tearing up! What’s wrong??” I say, “I just don’t want you to feel any more pain…ever.” She says, “But it doesn’t hurt! Look!” as she waves her hand. Then she becomes the adult and says, “You and me gotta have a talk when we get outta here!”
After the surgery she bounces out like nothing happened; we return to the group home for teen moms and we watch movies all afternoon. I was exhausted and slept forever. She stayed up until 4:30 am scrapbooking.
I asked her if she planned to put her wisdom teeth under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy. I wondered if she’d put all 4 or just one. She replied, “I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy.” I said, “Don’t be silly….everyone believes in the Tooth Fairy.” She said, “When I was growing up, I always put a tooth under my pillow. In the morning the tooth would be gone….and there was nothing under the pillow.” This kid was raped, sexually assaulted, gotten pregnant, called the police when her Mom was being beaten, and has been in Foster Care for 2 years. And now this. No Tooth Fairy. Seriously?
But now for the punch line. She added, “But my baby will have a Tooth Fairy.” There it is in a nut shell. This is what CASA is all about. It’s about being around to make things go a little smoother in a life most of us can’t even imagine. It’s making kids believe that there is a better life for them and their own children. They can break the cycle. They can change the hand they have been dealt. They can make a difference in the course of their own life. They have the power to re-write the end of their story.
We talked about her future plans, with graduating for the first time in her family, with going to college, with future careers. I told her she could even become President. She rolled her eyes. I said, “And when you do, just so you know now…I get my own room at the White House.” She said I was nuts. But then about 10 minutes later she said, “If I did become President…we could have an entire room….filled with shoes.” I laughed out loud. It was pretty funny. But the point is, it made her think it was possible. Even if she only thought that for a minute…it’s a minute of possibility. That’s what CASA’s do. Give hope. Esperanza.