A Prayer for Children

We pray for children

who sneak popsicles before supper,

who erase holes in math workbooks,

who can never find their shoes.

And we pray for those

who stare at photographers

from behind barbed wire,

who can't bound down the street

in anew pair of sneakers,

who never "counted potatoes,"

who are born in places

we wouldn't be caught dead in,

who never saw a circus,

who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children

who bring us sticky kisses

and fistfuls of dandelions,

who hug us in a hurry

and forget their lunch money.

And we pray for those

who never get dessert,

who have no security blanket

to drag behind them,

who watch their parents

watch them die,

who can't find any bread to steal,

who don't have any rooms to clean up,

whose pictures aren't on anyone's dresser,

whose monsters are real.

We pray for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,

who throw tantrums in the grocery store

and pick at their food,

who like ghost stories,

who shove their dirty clothes

under the bed and never rinse out the tub,

who get visits from the tooth fairy,

who don't like to be kissed

in front of the car pool,

who squirm in church or temple

and scream into the phone,

whose tears we sometimes laugh

at and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those whose nightmares

come in the daytime,

who will eat anything,

who have never seen a dentist,

who aren't spoiled by anybody,

who go to bed hungry

and cry themselves to sleep,

who live and move,

but have no being.

We pray for children

who want to be carried,

and for those who must be.

For those we never give up on

and for those

who never get a second chance.

For those we smother

and for those who will grab the hand

of anybody kind enough to offer it.

-Ina J. Hughes

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