Saturday, April 13, 2013

My busy teen

I just returned from bringing Rob to the nearby big city (30 minutes each way).  He and his friend are doing yard work for a parishioner that has health problems.  She is paying them, but they would do it without that, and likely will only accept a token payment.  It is good for kids to reach out and help others. aAlso, I had Rob be the point person, coordinating the emails and planning where people would meet, how we would get the yard supplies she needs etc.  He needed a bit of guidance of course, but did very well overall. This is a good skill to develop.  I am not bragging when I say I am proud of the young man that he is becoming.  Yes, I have loved, nurtured, exposed him to things I thought he should experience, but that doesn't mean that a teen follows a path you hope for.  It is up to them to discern from the experiences and opportunities, from the conversations and the texts, (yes we do communicate by text!) what a good choice is and when to step back.

He posted a comment on Facebook a week or so ago about a disturbing incident when he was at our local school park shooting hoops.  Apparently a kid he did not know was making racial slurs to him.  Rob opted not to do anything because the jerk  kid's younger brother was also there and he was significantly younger.  Rob felt if that "cute little kid" wasn't there he might have made a different choice, but he just walked away.  We talked both on line and face to face about how he acted with maturity and integrity.  I said how proud i was, but that personally I wanted to do something to that kid as well.  I shared that I was angry and felt pretty helpless and that made me even madder.  He laughed, but I think it was good that he knew that I was there.  I had his back as much as one can in a situation like that.  I hate that racism is still so pervasive.

In our area it is what I call "sneaky" racism.  Rarely is it as open as what he got at the school yard.  More often it is being followed in a store, or ignored at a check out.  People who do not have family members of color are shocked when I talk about this and think I am a whacko.  My black friends know that this is truth.  This means that I am endeavoring to raise strong young men of color who will be able to be open and loving but also know when to step back and when to step up.  It is a challenging road.