Have you ever read about the most amazing kid I know? You should. He’ll inspire you. Here’s one of the stories. From the age of 14 he has been singly focused on studying so he can support his family. In November, he finished year two of a three year program to become an….dang it, what’s the word?….he would work on large vehicles. Large vehicle worker? Let’s go with that. But his dream is to be a drama instructor. He wants to write and direct plays with kids in children’s homes. It gives me goosebumps to think about the impact he could have on kids that I love. Quite the anomaly, this one.
There’s that story about Moses and Aaron on a cliff with a war raging down below. Moses raises his staff, the Israelites begin to win. He gives in to the ache in his shoulder, and the Israelites begin to lose. Quite the pressure, right? At times I feel a bit like Moses hanging out on that cliff and my staff is a little thing called ‘worry’. Logically, I know that there is no actual correlation between the hours I spend worrying and the success a child has. But, man, does it sometimes seem like there’s string tied from my finger to the top of their head. I raise my worry staff and, like a marionette, his head pops up above the crowd. Breathe a sigh of relief, rest that finger and down he goes from view.
This kid who has rarely given me reason to worry got sucked into the crowd in December. My thin little string snapped after what now feels like too much time spent neglecting it. At eighteen years old, we can’t really say that he ran away. With one year of school left, one year away from holding in his hands a diploma that would get him a good job as he pursued his drama dreams, he decided that he could wait no longer. He needed to get this whole being an adult things started and help his family. And now I’m analyzing the last six months. Wondering what I missed and what conversations we should have had because he’s not going back.
In January, my hands were tied. He left me no choice. I played devil’s advocate. I painted terrifying pictures of what the real world was going to be like. Every time I had to pay for his meal or give him bus money, I pointed out that he wouldn’t need this help if he finished school and got a solid job. I talked about donors who had paid for two years of school all for naught. When he replied with “it wasn’t for nothing, I have two years to show a future employer”, I retorted “Right, so you can show them that you don’t finish the things that you start?” But he was determined. He said that he has both thought and prayed about this a lot. He’s aware that things won’t be easy.
I made one last attempt. He had told me multiple times that he has made a decision to start his life and ‘he’s a man of his word’ who follows through. Apparently, he said the same thing a few months ago, but about finishing school even though his motivation was waning. I sent him a message and reminded him that three months ago he was a ‘man of his word’ who would finish school. His response was….long. Feisty. And true to form, absolutely wonderful. He talked about how one mistake doesn’t make you a failure. That people see a great future for him and the fact that he hasn’t done exactly what was expected doesn’t mean that he’s nothing. Then he ended with “I have many talents and an excellent personality and because of that, I’m still working to obtain my goals for I still have many….”
I never thought I’d be writing about fears for this child’s future. My fear is not that he’ll end up on the street but that he won’t live the life that I want him to live. I went on automatic pilot and assumed he’d be just fine and feel like I dropped the ball. But then I read his words. They hit me with their zeal. He believes in himself. He thinks about the future and has goals. He’s so confident in the strength of his character and abilities that he pushes back when one of his biggest champions is raining doubt and negativity on his head (because I will always be taller).
This kid…he impresses even when he seems to be disappointing.