What is it about irreverent kids that I love? I mean I don’t like them really disrespectful, but I like those that have the intelligence and gumption to challenge social norms, gender expectations, and antiquated opinions. Why? I guess because I was one, I still am.
I was talking to a particular 9th grader the other day. I won’t name him for obvious reasons, but let’s suffice to say he was not from one of “the” families in town and is generally considered to be a real pain in the ass. In truth, what I see and know of his family is that they just suck. One word sums them up, selfish.
I love this kid, I mean I genuinely love him, but I fear for him immensely. He is quick witted, wicked smart, and a deep thinker, unusual for a 14-year-old. I think this kid is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, truly. He makes me think about the oldest questions ever asked in new ways. I think he would have given Locke, Einstein, St. Augustine, and Newton a few new avenues to travel.
Anyway, this kid is probably never going to graduate from high school, go to college, or be a productive law-abiding citizen. He already lusts after the excitement crossing the line has to offer and soon the petty crap he is doing isn’t going to hold him over. I also suspect he is dancing with Mr. Marijuana and the crowd he is quickly moving into is dancing with much harder stuff, like Mr. Oxy.
In addition, I know that one of his greatest daily joys is to piss off as many teachers as possible. He relishes this. He does what assignments tickle his fancy and shrugs off the rest. He is bored with school. He is under stimulated by traditional teaching methods. That is not the teachers fault, it is what it is and until the morons holding the educational purse strings get the boot and a bunch of old schooler’s embark on the big sleep, education will not broaden to encompass all of the learning styles. By that time it will be too late for my little Mister.
How often do you hear this phrase “Kids these days!” uttered like a vulgar oath? I hear it too much and I always cringe right before I rebuff them if I can. We blame kids for much. That is a funny thing though, because we raised them. Alas, it is an old story and many generations have suffered through the same abuses. However, I contend vehemently that the opportunities to encounter real and swift mortal harm are these day’s much more of a certainty to kids at risk and living on the fringes of society. I would go further to state that we as a society care less than the generations that came before us. That realization is sad, tragic, and frightening.
So, what am I supposed to do with the small bit of influence I have with this potential felon? I tell you what I am going to do. I am going to engage him every chance I get. I am going to invite him into my home and trust him not to steal me blind and forgive him if he does. I am going to let him push my buttons and test my resolve to stick by him when he screws up. I am going to offer up alternatives to his current travel plan and hammer him when he strays, and then hug him. Novel approach? Not really, God does it for me everyday.
As for my little Mister, I am going to risk me to reach him. I am going to risk not just my stuff, but something far more valuable, my belief. Imagine the possibilities? What if my belief is enough to keep him from a life of felonious activity? Even if he never goes to college, never makes a million bucks, and never is written down in any annals for achieved greatness, even if he lives just a regular Joe life, wouldn’t that be an accomplishment? What if we all embraced just one kid screaming to be listened to, trusted, guided, and loved? What if….