I was beat when I got in from the office yesterday. The fatigue had no relationship to the work. It was all about the traffic. The road trip home was 2-¾ hrs. I guess if there is an upside to it, I made a couple of work related telephone calls and then telephoned to visit with a friend. He, too, was in the midst of a long boring drive. Though I’ve known him from before I graduated from college, he and first wife were next-door neighbors to us when Craig was born. That was almost 45 years ago.
He was a go-to-person if you ever wanted to get anything fixed. He had the tools and the know-how to make things happen. He is actually the same age as the General. They were in the same graduation class in high school. I recently kidded him that the General was 16th in their graduation class of over 600. I think he said, “He graduated in either the top half of the class or the lower half of the class. He really couldn’t remember”.
He and his wife were great neighbors. The two of us were in an open competition to determine who could orchestrate the best-kept yard. Even over the space of almost 45-years, if asked, he would maintain that he won. I’d maintain that I won. Neither of us would say it was an even match. At times, he even solicited help from my son (age 1-to-2 year old at the time). I remember many times that Craig would stand directly in front of him with his feet on the tops of our friend’s size 13 shoes. The friend would walk pushing the mower while Craig’s feet rested on the top of his feet. Craig’s little hands also grasped the handle of the lawn mower. Did I mention the man had big feet? Actually, I’m made the shoe size up on the outside chance that he’d read my blog.
Thanksgiving before last, my friend and his current wife joined us for Thanksgiving. Although Craig has had few opportunities to share time in the space of the past 45 years, about the time Craig was eleven to twelve years old, our friend came to Henly for a long four day weekend and constructed a deck on the back of our home. I’m sure the folks who bought that home from us twenty-five years ago are still grateful for the craftsmanship and know-how he demonstrated in the project. At any rate, Craig enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect during that Thanksgiving reunion.
Have you stopped to consider the long-term impact that adults make in the world of children? Last night I visited with Craig by phone and he mentioned yesterday’s blog. He said, “When I read your observation about the men who had taken a hand in raising me, I got a little teary eyed. Though some are gone, their impact, values, friendship and time invested in my world continue to have meaning.”
It has been my observation that children who have at least five adults in their lives that contribute to and enhance a child’s life, fare better in adulthood than those who don’t. They also are more likely to take a role of advocacy and encouragement to a host of other children along the way.
The sad reality is that many children don’t have a home to return to when school is out in the afternoon or during the summer months where felt safety and a sense of nurture and support is the overriding characteristic. There are many parents who are thirty-five going on fifteen and the thing that is most dominant on their list of priorities are things that support something other than the needs of their child.
At some level, don’t we have a sense of obligation to attempt to fill-the-gap and provide some kind of support and lifeline for kids who need an anchor of hopefulness? Several years ago, I met a colleague who by happenstance grew up within seventeen miles of where I now live. From things that he shared about is family of origin, he did not have an easy time of it at home. Both of his parents were alcoholics. His needs were never a priority of his family.
When he shared his story with me, it seemed like the story didn’t add up. How could he have turned out to be as responsible and capable as I sensed he was with that family of origin as a backdrop? I asked for an explanation. He said, “The band director at the school turned out to be my lifeline. At the time, I thought it was because I had extraordinary musical talent and ability. The truth is the band director and his family knew I needed more support than they sensed I was receiving at home. Consequently, they provided it. I spent a lot of time in their home.
Kids cannot have too many significant adults in their lives. Never ever does the investment in a child’s best interest not reap long term benefits. Why not simply as a routine choose to take an interest in and encourage any child whose path connects with ours?
My mother had the amazing ability to make any child feel special. She always went out of her way to communicate with and offer a level of respect and encouragement. Mother had a level of playfulness in her approach and a unique ability to connect. She was a natural when it came to being an advocate for any child.
Isn’t it true, when we share our life with others it makes an impact. Why not step up to the plate and opt to contribute wellbeing and support for any child who is in the periphery of our range of influence. It could have a very positive long term approach.
All My Best!