I smiled. My student, Jeraad, was doing wonderfully. He slid the currycomb gently down the
“Don’t be afraid to hurt him, Jeraad. Like this,” I put my hand over his, and pressed the comb in
short, quick motions, “This feels good to him, see the dirt flying off?”
Jeraad laughed, “Braveheart is strong! I want a horse someday. My grandmother lives in Ohio,
I’m going to stay with her someday and have a horse.”
“What would you name it?” I smiled encouragingly, but I knew his plans would never happen.
They were always making plans, always so hopeful.
“Um...I know! Comet! He’ll be black like Braveheart, and fast!”
“ I bet he will. Jeraad, why don’t I finish this side, and you get the soft brush?”
They always take their time, don’t want to leave too soon. Deep breaths, slow movement. Don’t
He handed it to me, and retrieving the brush, started on the opposite side as me.
“What was your book about?” He had told me he loved reading, had gotten in trouble at school
for daydreaming about his last book.
They’ve all loved reading so far, it’s their escape, their hiding place.
“It was, it was like these 4 ninjas, and the mayor was a two-face, he paid gangs and lied, so
they….” He got so excited, talked for 5 minutes in a huge run-on sentence. I nodded,
encouraged his ramble.
They all ramble, it’s like a fountain that’s been stifled too long.
“That’s so interesting! I bet you’d make a great ninja.” I nodded and smiled to show I believed.
His face beamed with the hope and encouragement.
That’s really all they want, all they need. Someone to believe them, to trust them. Say it’s not
I handed him a toothed comb, and showed him how to untangle Braveheart’s tail. He moved
slowly, bottom to top.
“Cus, like, I don’t think Marcus can do better math than me. I think…..” He wouldn’t stop. If he
grew quiet, I’d ask one question and off he’d go again.
I listened. Nodded and smiled. Interrupted when the tail was done, pointing him to the mane.
They just want to know that their voice matters. That I hear them.
“Great job! Feel his back, see how clean it is? You did great! Do you know where the bucket
goes? Go ahead.” He grabbed the grooming bucket, running it into the tack room. I follow, “You
should walk so you don’t scare them.”
“Do you want to paint him?”
Jeraad shrugged. “What?”
“Come on. We have some green chalk, right?”
As much as he talks, he doesn’t want to appear too comfortable. Too happy. Not until he
forgets, drawing all over Braveheart’s back and neck, talking up a storm, then he forgets that he
didn’t want to be here. Didn’t like this place, wanted a different helper, different horse. He
forgets that he’s troublesome, and mean to everyone. He forgets about his family, and lack of
And he is happy. For two whole hours, I love him. I listen, and guide. He opens his heart to me,
because I asked. I cared. And he is happy, if only for two hours.
Time to go. He hugs me, makes me promise to work with him every time. “Will you be here next
“No, but I will the time after that.”
“Ugh! I want you next time! Are you sure? Can you just come?” He won’t take no, because he
felt loved here. He wants it the same way next time, and the time after that. I tell him he’ll have
fun without me, but when I do come tell me about it.
And he leaves, with his 3 ‘siblings’ from the foster home. Waving like crazy, down the long
And every time I see that van leave, I want to chase it down. Bring those kids home. Show them
that their are better things. Happy, beautiful, innocent things.
I want to cry, because our lives go on. I help here, and pray here, but, no matter what I do, they
have to live a life. Even if it hurts. Even if they don’t understand.
But I have this, even in their pain, I can be here. I can love them while I can, where I can, and only God can do more than that.