A pearl is created inside the shell of a mollusk: an oyster or a mussel. The creation of a pearl begins when an irritant — sand, food or even a piece of the shell — is introduced into the oyster. To protect itself from this outside irritant, the oyster secretes substances in layers that surround the irritant and in time form a pearl.
The pearl that is formed can be shiny, can have a porcelain finish and can be found in varying colors from white to silver to cream to black. Regardless of its appearance, each pearl is a natural beauty.
So, too, are our children. Our charge as caregivers is to encase them in layers of determination, self-worth, confidence, ability, discipline, kindness and love-of-self that over years and years of layering will form a protective self-assurance that allows them to flourish in any environment. These layers of self- assurance, strengthened over many years, create a child who can stand alone — confident in his or her own “I Am-ness.” Our investment in the potential of children will exponentially skyrocket their esteem.
Like a child, the wild pearl grown in freshwater mussels or saltwater oysters may have imperfections; however, that does not make it any less beautiful. We should each take time to look at and interact with the children in our lives — the ones we know and the ones we see throughout the day, the children whose pearls are still forming. Examine your adult insides to see if you can make a positive difference.
The children who need the guidance of an adult might not look like you, come from where you came from or have many of the privileges that you have; however, there is something that can be gleaned from uplifting and encouraging adult interaction. What might be considered an irritant today may be the rare pearl of tomorrow.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.