One of the many things that we try to teach our children is how to make good decisions. Sometimes the problem can be that we may not always make good decisions ourselves or we may allow emotions to influence our choices. I found this to be true in a recent argument I had with my older son and a latter discussion about an important choice he wanted to make.
The argument was about his last-minute decision to back out of his promise to come skiing with me over Winter Break, preferring instead to stay home with his friends (and girlfriend). I got angry as he made this decision days before we were supposed to leave, thus leaving me high and dry with little time to find a friend to come in his place. My wife and other son were already scheduled to go on a very special trip to Japan and Hong Kong.
I’m amazed when my boys tell me they’re bored. Bored? With all the options they have today? The best response I ever heard to a kid saying “I’m bored” was “No, you’re boring.” A brilliant response from a parent and I wish I’d said it first. It is not our job to be our kid’s entertainment coordinator.
When I was a kid, we played. Seems kind of quaint. We made up games. One of my favorites was called Mongoose, where we took two books and hit a ping-pong ball back and forth between them with the object to see how long we could keep it going. Then, they’re all the adventures we’d go on in our own Huck Finn way. Places to explore, bikes to ride, trees to climb.
One of the clichés about volunteerism is the fact that you often get more than you give. In my case, it was in ways and means I least expected. I’ve just become a Big Brother, again, to a 7-year-old boy and a Mentor to a 22-year-old young man. As these relationships are new, I don’t yet know what lessons I will learn. But, I know well the lessons I learned the first time around.
I became a Big Brother, long before I was married or a parent. My life, at that time, was pretty heady. In my early 30’s, I had a successful showbiz career in which I was paid way too much for having so much fun, I lived in a lovely home in a chic part of town, had two cars, and no one to worry about other than myself.