Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be Ready When Youth Reach Out

So James walked onto the deck late on a Saturday morning and started his normal routine of getting dressed slow, flirting with whichever of his lady teammates is on deck, and of course his "rigorous" stretching routine. Knowing that it is pointless to try and hustle him into the water because I've tried, and with it being 7am, I simply watched the whole thing play out from the other end of the pool. As warm up ended, he still wasn't in, and the look on his face wasn't the usual "I'm so cool", it was more like "My dog just got hit by a truck". As I walked up to him, I fixed my face from disgruntled to concerned.

"What's up? You sick"? I asked

He shook his head no. That was a bad sign. This dude usually wastes no opportunity to talk.

"So what's going on? You hurt"

Another head shake no. Now I'm getting worried.

When he finally could summon the words, he got out "I can tell you anything right?"

"Sure." It sounded serious

He started to talk three times and couldn't. He went to the locker room to compose himself, and when he finally managed to tell me what was going on, I was shocked, and all I could do was stand patiently and listen. When he was done all I could do was offer continued support because the nature of what he told me was so far beyond my life experience that I could not even try to picture myself in his shoes. Thank goodness listening helps. This young man felt he couldn't discuss this issue with his parents, but by luck, his father dropped by practice, and he ended up having to tell his father what was on his mind. It was quite the lesson that no matter how well today's teens seem to be handling things with their skinny jeans sagging, they still need guidance, mentorship and support.

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