Archive from November, 2017
8 Nov
Posted in: parenting
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One of Us

kindness matters quote

I’m a nervous creature by nature and have serious worrying tendencies. Sending our oldest to high school sent me through a minefield of emotions. I’d never attended a school that size, excluding college. He’d be with hundreds of students from all over the county, and I knew this point marked the time he would be more with others and less with us. All we had taught and trained him up with would be put to actual test.

When I dropped him off at his first high school football practice in early August, I prayed and wished that he would find kind teammates and adults who would see him like I do. Three weeks later when marching band began, I prayed for more kind teens and caring adults. I slowly felt my tension ease with every story, every friend, every encounter he related. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good.

He knew what I was worried about: upperclassmen picking on underclassmen, belittling coaches, teachers who no longer like their job, struggling in class, unkind classmates, drugs, alcohol, depression, etc. Every ABC Afterschool Special I grew up watching was on my list of concerns and a whole lot more the folks at ABC didn’t see coming for this generation. My high school only housed 10th, 11th and 12th grades. Freshmen were still in the junior high. I didn’t have any senior friends when I was his age, unless you count a few friends’ siblings. He has a couple classes with seniors and calls a couple dozen teammate. Chalk high school up as one more parenting milestone I felt ill-equipped to handle.

I’ve spent this first quarter asking questions about everything to anyone who would listen. Slowly my knowledge base has grown, while my worries fade to the background. I doubt I’ll ever shake those shackles, but I’m less fearful of this phase than I was three months ago. We have a decade of high school to look forward to with our four children. Those worries will rise to the surface and a few will probably come to fruition, but starting this journey on a positive note was an answered prayer.

Having two activities begin before the start of school, while cutting into my travel plans, was the most beneficial thing to happen to our freshman. He knew several teachers, loads of students in all grades and his way around campus. The first day was a formality by the time it rolled around.

I have told parents, teachers, teenagers and coaches stories about the kindness they have shown. We all get into a groove doing certain tasks and sometimes don’t see them for the gesture they are, whether it’s inspirational quotes, meals, car pooling or simply a kind word. Those little things, especially coming from several sources at once, make all the difference in a situation.

After the last regular season home football game, I took a moment on the field to thank a group of seniors for how kind they had been to our son. One big, burly lineman replied, “It wasn’t anything. He’s one of us, and we take care of each other.” We all belong together and are better off when we take care of one another.

Kindness matters. Love one another. Be kind. Always be inclusive. All these phrases and more I’ve repeated over and over throughout the last 15 years, I now watch teenagers live acting by example. It’s not everyone in the high school or even on the team. It’s a place filled with hormones and rapidly changing people who are perfectly imperfect, but they are showing kindness. Parents, we’re getting through to this next generation. I sometimes feel my words fall on deaf ears in parenting, but when I take a step back and watch these kids, I have renewed hope for this world that seems to have gone mad and lost its way.