Legacy of Hope

In honor of National Poetry Month, we’re sharing a spoken-word poem about TBRI®, A Legacy of Hope, by Brandon Reyes of Austin, TX.

Legacy of Hope from Brandon and Janice Reyes on Vimeo.

Legacy of Hope

by: Brandon Reyes

Distant, unfocused, struggles making friends
Or keeping simple rules
Tends to act out in violence
Keeps falling behind in his school

There was a time when these labels
Would’ve meant the end of a kid
And rather than ask why he did what he did
As you might with a friend with whom you had bonded
We only noticed he’d flipped his lid
Put our foot down, drew a line, and responded

But it turns out that when your thoughts
Are centered on survival
You don’t care much for math
Or the pilgrim’s arrival

When your belly is empty
Because you couldn’t find food
And instead of hugged
You were belittled or bruised

When your safety is threatened
Whether real or merely perceived
The only reasonable reaction really
Is to fight flight or freeze

So be careful to judge based on surface commotion
We all are more complicated than our outer emotions
See a sad child can come across hateful and angry
And a scared kid can look downright wild or crazy

But if only we can see past bad behavior
To the unmet needs that are hiding beneath
We can take that fear captive
Love can get traction
Healing can happen
And a kid can be freed

Now for those that might be skeptic
Or for those who have never heard this
And are maybe feeling a little nervous
Let me tell you what we’ve learned
From the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis

See when a brain develops
It needs safety and nurture
As a precursor to develop further

When instead of loved
One’s abused or neglected
Brain development slows
And everything is affected:

Emotions and the ability to regulate one’s self
Relationships, behaviors, reason, focus, and health

And when all of one’s efforts are spent staying alive
The brain of a nine year old
Can look closer to five

Then when that same kid’s expected to act his age
Of course he’s going to disengage

But every brain’s plastic
And what this means
Is that each can still change
Whether toddler or teen

This gives us great hope
That with informed interventions
A person can heal
As their brain makes new connections

This doesn’t just happen though
We must be intentional
With some dos and do nots
That may at first seem unconventional

Now before we dive in
We must address expectations
As trust must be established
And this demands patience

For compliance that’s won
From compulsion or shame
Is to win the match but to lose the game

If we want to attain a constructive affect
We must learn to “connect” before we “correct”

This leads me right in
To something every kid needs
It’s the “do-over” and with it
A poor choice is redeemed

Then in place of punishment
Or tongue lashing
That leads to self-loathing
It becomes an opportunity
For learning and growing

Then if they take advantage
The second time around
And behave in ways that are healthy
Hugs and praises abound

In this way the relationship
Is strengthened and cultivated
Good conduct is enforced
And no one’s left feeling hated

In addition we all yearn
To be given a voice
A safe way to encourage this
Is to offer a choice

This book or that one?
Red shirt or blue?
It means mountains to kids
But costs little of you

Then you don’t come across
As leading with oppression
And having gained some control
There’s less need for aggression

Moving on, another strategy
For preventing hostility
Empowers and brings unity
But requires great humility

Get down at their level
Smile and wait for their eyes
Then set aside pride
And invite compromise

Now when you’ve tried your best
But it just wasn’t enough
And now emotions are high
And behaviors are rough

Don’t banish them off
To sulk in isolation
Stay with them
Be patient
Spare them the desolation

Let your words be few
Then once they’ve calmed down
Remind them how much they’re cherished
And wanted around

How nothing they could ever do
Could chage their high inherent worth
It’s no more on their best day
No less on their worst

Just try this and see
As they learn that you care
That with love and security
There’s no more need to despair

Now if you’re worried this is too
Touchy-feely or weird
Let me assure you
You have nothing to fear

This wasn’t dreamed up
In a vacuum or bubble
But through research and practice
With real kids in real trouble

And with patience and grace
And faith that God is redeeming
There’s not a single kid out there
Beyond hope
And healing


One Response to “Legacy of Hope”

  1. Melanie Cogdell Farrow

    I am a post adoption social worker and I have attempted to keep families engaged by doing a monthly newsletter. May I have your permission to post this poem and video in the newsletter?

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