Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Children Need to Know They Matter

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Children Need to Know They Matter

Article excerpt

It's a part of Las Vegas seldom seen by tourists who would rather spend their time and money in the neon glow of the Strip. We were on our way out of town for an overnight on Mount Charleston, an 11,000-foot peak an hour's drive from Vegas that serves as a ski resort in winter, and in other seasons, a respite from the desert inferno. For me, it was a chance to see a little fall color - not like the autumns I knew as a child in the mountains of North Carolina, but better than no color at all.

I was homesick for fall. My husband knew it. When I said, "Let's go," he said, "Yes, let's."

You have to like the kind of man who says that.

When a missed exit on the freeway put us on a slightly different path, as life often will, we found ourselves sitting at a traffic light trying to avoid eye contact with people trying to sell us things we didn't want to buy.

That's when I spotted her - a skinny little girl about 3 or 4 years old. Her hair was tightly braided in swirly rows, pinned to her scalp with hot-pink barrettes. She wore a short ruffly dress with leggings and sandals, and a smile to outshine all the neon on the Strip. Even at a distance, I could see the light that danced in her eyes.

She seemed well-cared for and happy, skipping across the street holding the hand of a woman who struck me, as my grandmother would say, like somebody who knew how to raise a child right.

That's all I can tell you. I know nothing, really, about that child. But something about her - how she seemed to see everything at once - reminded me of another child from a lifetime ago.

She grew up in the country, not the city, crossing cow pastures, not crowded streets.

Her family didn't have a lot, but they had enough, usually, to keep cornbread on the table, a tin roof over her head and hand- medown shoes on her feet. …

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