Sometimes I love my kids so much it hurts.  My little-bitty boys (we haven’t got a single girl!) in my class at work.  The 5-year-olds I draw with at Feast.  The middle schoolers in my junior youth group. They have no idea how much time I spend thinking about them, worrying over them, praying for them when we’re not together.

One of “my kids” that I worked with years ago just turned 18.  She takes amazing photographs.   Another one is in college.  Another keeps in touch by email and Facebook, coming to me for advice when he doesn’t want to ask his parents.  I poured so much energy into these relationships, and they’ve stayed with me.

The second-graders in the after-school program I taught with after I graduated in high school should be graduating from high school this spring, if all went well with them.  I was only a teenager myself when I worked with them, and didn’t yet know the importance of connections outside of the classroom.  I wonder what they are doing, and I wish them all the best.

Some of “my kids” have come back into my life after I lost them.  One I worked with as a middle schooler in a summer program, and later ended up as my assistant teacher at another summer program nearby.

If parents only knew how teachers cared for their children–dreamed and worried and wept for them–we would find so much common ground.  The emotional roller coasters, the magical moments, and the ache of letting go.

I want to build communities in which all our love for all our children is an open book.  In which non-biological bonds are cherished and fostered, rather than suspicious, or even taboo.  What I want to create is a village that is capable of raising a child.

1st step: learn to love

2nd step: learn to act

3rd step: learn to love and act with others

It’s so simple.  We could already be there.