BY SHARON MARTIN
A Tulsa-area toddler was killed by a family member last week.
On the Creek Turnpike is a sign that says, “One in five Tulsa children go to bed hungry at night.”
As I write on Mother’s Day, I mourn for the luckless children and think on what my mother gave me. Love and security should be every child’s birthright. We learn what we live, and we pass it on.
We didn’t have money; sometimes the wind blew up between the floorboards in the bedrooms. But my siblings and I had what we needed – love, lessons, and a safe place to grow.
Mom’s family taught me to make the music. We played dominoes with Mom and Grandpa and didn’t realize we were learning math. In competitive games of moon, we learned to bluff, negotiate, and value pluck and luck.
Grandma Edge taught me how to dress a chicken, dig potatoes, and garnish a glass of tea with mint leaves.
Dad was the reading and social studies teacher. As we traveled down the road, I picked out letters and words on the billboards and learned the 77 counties of Oklahoma by spotting car tags. We memorized Burma Shave rhymes: Henry the Eighth had lots of trouble, short-term wives and long-term stubble.
Dad told stories about wolf packs and took me to see the beaver’s dam. He woke me in the middle of the night to witness a meteor shower.
Love and learning are gifts. Curiosity and delight can be passed on.
As the year moves to summer, the lunchroom and the curriculum are in parents’ hands. Share your children’s summer reading programs and their summer fun. Nourish their bodies, but don’t fail to feed their souls and minds. When we give children unconditional love and a desire to learn, we help end those sad statistics that haunt us all.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer