Have you ever done something smart that turned out to be stupid? Have you ever made a good choice for yourself or others that seemed the best course of action, only for it to blow up in your face?
This 4-part series is based on something that happened to me when I was 5-years-old: the choices that followed, and the consequences of those choices that still resound today, both in memory and in lessons, for how I need to interact with the children in my life.
When I was five-years-old I had the opportunity to have my first sleepover at a friend’s house. Like many other five-year-olds — it didn’t turn out well. Most of my recollections of that night have been lost to time, but 5 parts of the night stand out very clearly to me. As if they happened yesterday — even though it happened almost 30 years ago.
First, I remember the beginning of the evening. The sun was up, the sky was blue, and my mother dropped me off at my friend’s house, about a block away from my home in Frederick, Colorado. My friend’s father and older brother had a drum kit that they played and I thought that was pretty cool. I remember standing next to that kit wishing I could play it. My memories of this part of the evening have an optimistic feel. I was hopeful and excited to try something new. To conquer the sleepover.
Second, I remember my friend’s big brother getting in trouble with his father, though I don’t remember why or how. This stands out to me because my parents divorced before I was 1-year-old. I didn’t have my dad at home very often; he lived in Gillette, Wyoming. When my dad was around, there wasn’t much time for trouble. So when my friend’s brother got in trouble, I got scared. Really, really scared. I don’t believe abuse was going on. I don’t believe anything out of bounds was happening. But my 5-year-old mind just couldn’t handle the situation and I panicked.
We will pick up the story in part 2 of Safe and Sorry, but right now, let’s look at a couple of lessons that we can learn from part 1.
It doesn’t take much to turn a young person’s attitude from optimism to fear. From hope and expectation to panic. In my experience, the kids that say they don’t want to be there — that cause the most trouble — are the kids that secretly want to be around the most. One moment of anger, one harsh word, directed towards any student, could shatter their trust and keep them from receiving whatever it is that God brought them to us for.
Every child has a different background. Just like adults do. The child that seems to always be causing trouble, or the teen with his hood over his head and earbuds in — trying not to make eye contact, may have legitimate reasons for their actions. We need to strive to understand them as people and find out where they are coming from. Find out what is fueling their choices and attitude. We cannot let our intentions define our beliefs about how our words and actions are interpreted by our NextGen students.
Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment’s section. Seriously! We’re all in this together.