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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dear Youth Leaders

Dear Volunteer Leaders Of Any Organization Requiring Interaction With Teenagers,

Hang in there.

Yes, they can be mean, to each other, and to you and the other leaders. They make you feel they don’t like you, and say stupid stuff like, “You’re too cheesy.”

You put in the time and effort to organize an activity where each person shares their favorite recipe and brings a sample, and that one smart aleck girl has the gall to bring a tray of ice cubes.

Yeah, that one girl. She wears hiking boots to church each week. She shows up for the activity but instead of participating sits there and listens to her Depeche Mode tape on her walkman and refuses to take her sunglasses off (inside, at night). She misses her own seminary graduation (for which she was scheduled to sing a solo) because she decided to take a weekend road trip to Toronto. It’s not that she’s misbehaving, per se, but her defiance is exasperating.

I hope you know, Dear Leaders, that your examples are making a difference. She sees you. They all see you. She quietly notes your hard work, how you live your life. She’s drawn to you and maybe even your home. She’s so grateful you make yourself available, inconvenient as it is, to give her rides when she needs. She’ll remember you.

She’ll think of you over the next couple of decades. She’ll become a mom, like you, and think of you when she’s in the trenches. She’ll wish she had your cinnamon roll recipe. She’ll become an adult leader of teenagers, and while on a camping trip with those teens she’ll roll her eyes, sigh, and wish she could call you THIS MINUTE and apologize for EVERYTHING.

She’ll learn the value of words and cringe when she considers things she remembers saying and the countless more she’s sure she said (but doesn’t remember what they are, exactly).

And 24 or 25 years or so down the road, when you’re living where she grew up and she’s living where you grew up, she’ll think of that ice cube thing while she’s getting dressed in the morning, and she’ll kind of chuckle.

And later that day she’ll be so glad when you bring up that ice cube thing when you meet for lunch. She’s glad you remembered, and she’s grateful you see past those things teenagers are wont to do.

Hang in.


Annette said...


Emily said...

Yep. I love this.