Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books

I had a lot of Little Golden Books when I was little. My parents allotted a special, low shelf in the living room for what I called “my library.” I even tried to number them on their skinny spines as I’d seen numbers on the books at the big library. Those books are now in my family room in my mother’s old traveling suitcase. My grandkids love their simple stories and gentle illustrations. 
One of my books was about “helpers.” I grew up on a farm, so the pictures of policemen, firemen, nurses, and crossing guards were a little exotic. I had never even seen a police officer in person. But the book assured me, as did Captain Kangaroo, that if I were ever alone in a big city, these heroes would help me.

That is not true for many children who come to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. Many have seen their family being “ripped apart” by people in uniform. Without any context for understanding, these children saw their mother and/or father chased, tased, or handcuffed before being taken away. Sometimes, they were gone for a little while, sometimes years, sometimes forever. Or, they themselves were taken from the home and family they knew, their clothes in a garbage bag, and left with strangers they did not know.

An old saying talks about “the devil you know.” Small children who live where drugs, alcohol, violence, sexual abuse, hunger, and filth are the norm have no concept of another way of living. To cope with the challenges, their brains normalize the trauma. When a uniformed person comes into the picture, it is often disruptive and disorienting. There is more yelling, crying, fighting, and fear. And, when offending adults or children are removed from the situation, their growing brains struggle to make sense of it. They feel the unexpected, “abnormal” trauma of the conflict or the loss of a parent or home. They know these things were taken away by people in uniform. They simply don’t have the capacity or life experience to understand why.

As they grow older, learn about the world, and understand more about their young lives, they can hopefully, with support, begin to heal from all they experienced. However, that sudden disruption caused by the uniformed officers can remain a defining, sensory trigger. It can take a lot to learn to trust and see the police as “heroes who will help me.”
That’s why I got choked up on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I received pictures of several Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch children delivering a basket of goodies and handwritten cards to the local police force. When they delivered them to the station, they were met by two Sergeants in full uniform. What a huge healing moment! What a threshold to cross!
In the pictures, both the children and the officers were smiling.

Just like in my Little Golden Book.
Please pray for our children and staff, and let’s all throw in an extra prayer for the heroes who help us.

In His love,

Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

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