As you know we live on a farm. In a lot of ways, we are very sheltered here. We have basically no crime to speak of, and no major crime at all.
I have to be honest and say I was very concerned when we took Ashley to visit the small private college she ended up going to. It's not in the nicest part of town. As you are driving, there are a lot of buildings with window boarded up. Graffiti can be seen in some places, and much of the housing is for lower incomes, so sadly, they aren't in the best conditions.
I kept thinking "Oh dear Lord, please do NOT let her select this college". Of course, she fell in love with that college and honestly, so did we. I was so impressed when we talked to the head of the Campus Security dept and heard all they do to make sure the campus is safe (so safe they have had no major crimes (rape or murder) in the history of the school.
Then we took Chelsea to the school she chose and I had similar reservations. She looked like the "all american" teenage girl. Jeans, sweatshirt, ponytail bobbing along as she walked....right past a guy that I wondered had ever been on America's Most Wanted. He was huge, had long stringy greasy hair. Tattoos covered almost all of him except his face, which had been reserved for many piercings. He wore all black and his pants had chains all over them. His eyes looked so cold. I leaned over to Jay and said "Can we consider home schooling them for college?"
My biggest fear with my girls is how naive and trusting they are. That's fine when you live at home with mom and dad and we live in an area where most never lock their doors at night. Not when you live in a large city. Add given the fact that they are 5'3" and 5'4" and both weigh around 100lbs soaking wet, and yea, momma worries and prays...and worries and prays some more.
On the first week of class Chelsea started talking every day with a girl who was 29. She had been in and out of relationships and had 2 children with different fathers. She had tattoos and she smoked heavily. Her hair was dyed black with hot pink streaks in it. She cursed and spit. Oh, and her parents kicked her out of their house and kept her kids because they caught her smoking pot in their basement. My first thought was to shake Chelsea and say "What are you thinking even talking to this girl?" But Chelsea said "Mom, she looks so sad. No one else in the class will sit by her. No one talks to her and I even feel bad between classes when she's standing outside smoking, because she's all alone. She just looks like she needs someone to be nice to her."
Ashley talks about the "Texas boys" at her college. They are football players that followed their high school coach up here when he took over the college coaching job. These are true inner-city kids. Ashley said they dress, talk and act in the "gangsta" style. They try to act all tough and rude. She said that she and 2 friends were in the lounge watching something on the tv when several of these guys sat down in the lounge to join them. They ended up sitting there for hours together talking, laughing and getting to know each other. They were as amazed to hear about her farm life as she was to hear about their inner-city lives. She found it hysterical that they thought she was more brave than them because she actually got in pens with pigs. LOL
We went to a basketball game at her college and a group of them were there. Yes, they had the baggy jeans on. Yes they had the huge t-shirts and all the silver chains I think their necks could hold. They had their hats with the flat brims on backwards, and they all sauntered and strutted into the gym silently and making eye contact with no one. They sat 4 rows ahead of us and it turned out to be the most fun game I have ever been to. They made comments through out the whole game (for example one girl lost her temper during the game and the guys went down the line saying "She ain't got no self-control" using different voices [think munchkins]). It was just one thing after another, nothing was ever said in a mean or offensive way, but it was all so very funny. They were there having a great time and we enjoyed it so much. When the dancers would perform during time-outs, they always gave them a standing ovation when they were done and they'd hollar out the girls' names and cheered for them.
We had to leave before the game was over (to make it to our next game) and one of the guys said "hey you're not leavin' are ya?" Jay explained we were there to watch our daughter and showed which one she was and this guy hollared out "Hey Ashley, your mamma and daddy are leavin'. You really should come give them a hug girl."
To say Ashley turned 3 shades of red is an understatement!
On the way home I felt a headache coming on, so I laid my seat back and closed my eyes. While laying there, I thought about the game. About how I felt tense when I saw them come into the gym. Was it because they looked so different from me? Because they dressed different? Talked different? Acted different? Was it because of the perception given on tv that all who live in big cities are gang members with hearts full of evil?
Then I thought of Ashley, who was naive and trusting. She didn't think twice of sitting there (3 girls with 10 large men) talking, laughing and sharing her life with these strangers that night. How by being so naive and trusting she was able to see past their image they are trying to portray and see that they are great guys.
I then thought about Chelsea. Being naive and trusting allowed her to open her heart to a lost young woman and show her kindness and compassion when no one else would.
Then I thought about Jesus and all those he befriended regardless of what others thought. And also about what he has said is expected of us. The whole "Do unto others" kept running around in my head.
Today, my children were my teachers.