Monday, June 1, 2015

all the greatest lessons in life you learn from eleven year olds

Dear me,

It's that point in a practice when you are up against a wall.
You have to make a decision do I give up or do I press on.

That is you. All you.
All those people you ask, they tell you to do as you would like.
You're on your own.
This is up to you. You made a deal with yourself. You have to live with you.

Even if you are a kid and you are eleven years old and you see the very awesome presentation which leads you to believe that Boy Scouts of America is where you want to be.

I said no to that face. "Nope. Uhuh. Ain't gonna happen."



"But you don't understand. There was this guy and he came to school and there is rock climbing and hiking and camping and"

"What is the goal?"

"I can be an Eagle Scout once I do everything."

"How long does that take?"

"I have to have it by the time I'm eighteen."

"That's seven years. This is the only deal I'm willing to make. If I'm going to sign this piece of paper and give them this much money and buy a shirt and a book, and, son, you're gonna do it. You understand? You're eleven. No backing out. You either get your Eagle or you do this for the next seven years whichever comes first."

"Yes ma'am."

"You do hear me. Right? The only way you get out of this is if you have your Eagle Scout or you turn eighteen."

"Yes ma'am. I understand."

Seven years later he did what he said he would do that day. A week before his eighteenth birthday of I don't want to and do I have to? he earned that badge. He pushed past, jumped hurdles, camped alone on a creek bank, cycled 100 miles, got real dirty, made great friends, learned to make lasagna and balance a life. I recommend it but not for the faint of heart. There are going to be times when everyone will say it will be better if we just don't do this anymore.

Just last week I attended a guitar lesson with another eleven year old.
The one who four months ago said, "Yes."

"Really? You want to."

"Yes," she said like the kid who had just seen the most awesome boy scout presentation on stage at school.

"Okay but we have to stick with it."

"I will."

"Are you sure? This will be expensive, and it's gonna be work."

"Yes. I know."

Verbal contracts between adults and eleven year olds are binding and tough and sometimes a lesson is that you didn't practice enough. I thought that night she would for sure give up. She wanted to and put on her best act of yawn and pout and squirm and fidget and I can't do this and That's too hard. It's painful to watch but beautiful too because the next day she showed up at practice with a step I hadn't seen before, a new zest for that guitar.

And in the question of do you or don't you continue you have learned some of the greatest lessons from eleven year olds, you. Keep listening to kids.

Today I am grateful for the examples of those people around me who push forward because they made a commitment to something or someone but mainly themselves. Those jiminy crickets, that pillow.

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