I never thought of myself as a mentor and frankly, I think many of the lessons I have to offer today’s youth are a bit sketchy. Sometimes though, you just meet a kid who is so awesome you think, OMG this kid had better succeed in life because wow, what a cool kid.
That’s what happened to me and is why I became a mentor. I’ve been involved in a mentoring program for going on 2 years now and I must say, it has been a great experience and one I highly recommend for anyone who isn’t a pedophile, criminal, rapist, stalker, or otherwise creepy person. If you, like me, are just kind of awesome and enjoy having an excuse to go out and do things, seriously, become a mentor.
I call my mentee my padawan and I drag her with me to do all sorts of stuff like visit zoos and aquariums and to watch theater. She’s turning 18 next year so we’re going to go to New York for a few days to celebrate her graduating high school, staying out of trouble, and generally being an amazing person despite some pretty crappy things happening in her life. I won’t go into her personal life or history I’ll just say this is one strong and amazing young lady. She inspires me as much as I hope I inspire her.
See, everyone has crappy stuff happen in their lives. Sometimes its really crappy stuff. Some people choose to wallow in that and use it as an excuse or a crutch to avoid taking responsibility for their lives. Other people, however, realize that all those bad things help shape you into who you are and that you can actually use adversity to make you into a stronger and better person. Early life struggles can create a strong drive to succeed and equip you with the skills to push past the stumbling blocks that pop up along the way. I eventually realized that but it took some pretty big mistakes (like getting pregnant in high school) to get me to that point. My padawan has a much better handle on life than I did at her age.
The reason I decided to post this glowing appraisal of my padawan and mentoring in general is simply that a facebook post and comment thread made me laugh and brightened my day. It said:
Padawan: Everyone lies, no exceptions
Friend: ummm… honest Abe?
Padawan: wasn’t always honest
Friend: what a misleading name he had
Padawan: Usually Honest But Sometimes Not Abe isn’t really a good campaign slogan.
The kid cracks me up.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is mentor, non-pedophile, rapey, creepy type people. It’s seriously fun and kind of awesome. Plus it gives you an excuse to do kid stuff or just stuff in general and then you get to take the kid home at the end of the day. So it’s also a bit like being a grandparent.
Okay, enough posting for today. I’ve got important crap to do.
Actually, this is being reposted on a friend’s blog so I’d like to add something. I mentor through my local foster care agency. There are great local and national programs all over the country and all sorts of kids who just need a positive and consistent adult influence in their lives. Teens in foster care, however, have a special place in my heart and in my opinion are one of the most overlooked and forgotten groups. For that reason, I recommend your local foster care agency as a place to start. Not all foster care agencies have mentoring programs but say you call, worst case scenario is they tell you they don’t have a program and you say, maybe you should consider starting one. The idea is planted and who knows, maybe it’ll grow. There is no shortage of need for mentors or agencies wishing for and wanting mentors for their kids. What there is though is a serious lack of people willing to give their time to a kid they don’t know. So that’s what I really hope you take from this. It doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment. I don’t spend a ton of time with my padawan but I do listen to her interests and send her packages to help her nurture them. I make promises to her and keep them. I laugh at her facebook posts and I invite her to tag along to things I’m already doing anyway. Mostly though, I just enjoy hanging out with her because she’s a worthwhile person and fun to hang out with. That’s all mentoring is. So seriously, if you’re considering becoming a mentor, do it. It’s a great way to do something meaningful with your time.
/steps off of soap box/