A Prayer For Children

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Childrens Prayer

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 a new 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 anybody'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 carpool, 
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. 

--by Ina J. Hughes, included in Marian Wright Edelman's book, 
The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours