Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Kids are Alright

A couple of 8th graders have been voluntarily helping me throughout the year. Some ask if there is anything they can do for me at the end of the day, and some help me put away the iPads and Chromebooks, while others collect all of the name cards I lay out whenever I assign seating.

And in the crazy way that life works, these acts have begun to trigger associations within me. Whenever one of these kids offers their help I remember something a little bit different...

I remember when several teachers would help me paint the set for the middle school play. It would be on weekends and very early in the morning.

I remember when I was in the hospital for a minor surgery and a friend cleaned my house, did my laundry, and stocked my cabinets with food.

I remember when friends helped put my house back together after a rather destructive burglary several years ago.

I remember a neighbor who volunteered to chop up a tree with me that was struck by lightning.

I remember when a dozen high school students would come back to help direct the middle school play, and it allowed us to keep everyone and hold rehearsals everyday. Over a 100 kids rotating in groups of ten through various acting stations: breathing exercises, improv and clown, dance, scene study, etc. We did it for three years in a row. It was pretty awesome.

I remember when friends volunteered to take kids to Wyoming with me for Spring Break. We set up a week of study in the theater and dance department at the U as well as various outdoor activities on a ranch: fly fishing, snow shoeing, and horseback riding.

I remember how receptive one of the professors was at Wyoming. I'd emailed dozens of theater and dance programs to see if anyone would be interested in allowing a small group of high school and middle school students survey some of their classes--kids who are interested in the arts. My gosh, I remember everything Leigh, the professor, set up for our kids: dance class, sword fighting class, combat class, acting for television, set design, vocal instruction, among others.That too was awesome.

I remember my parents bailing me out time after time after time.

And no, I don't mean jail.

I remember a friend, John, who has always helped me from the first day I met him at work.

Actually, I can remember family member after family member who helped me in someway...Michael's support during my PBS internship; his parents, my uncle and aunt, allowing me to live with them for a couple of weeks at the beach until I found a place of my own; I remember my Uncle Danny who grabbed a boy by the collar and yanked him off me after he jumped me and made me eat fists as I collapsed into the ground.

With family, it could just go on and on...

But I also remember an 8th grade teacher, Sister St. Christopher, who helped me find my first job at fourteen--a delivery boy for a drug store. (Which is rather incredible when you think about it).

And I remember another teacher, Mr. Smith, helped me avoid failing math (miserably) during my senior year of high school. He gave me a little job keeping statistics for the high school girls' basketball team.

I remember the girls trying to help me with math in Mr. Smith's class, but I don't remember the math at all.

I remember friends, dropping their families, who gave me rides or who rushed over to my house to help hunt for runaway dogs or who unpacked moving vans or who helped me through a tough period with a card, a note, a little hug.

Yeah, I remember all the help I've ever received, at least I like to think I do; and, at the same time, it is nice to be reminded by these kids through their sincere kindness.

Because more than what it reminds me of from my own life, it demonstrates something even more important.

The kids are alright.


  1. I enjoyed reading this reflective and affirming piece Brian. The kids are indeed, alright. Thank you for this most positive slice. Reading this on 'Harmony Day' provides a boost to the human spirit. Casting our eyes towards the light is sustaining. Your piece is a celebration.

  2. Too often we forget - or do not spend time remembering - all those very special moments when someone reached out to help us. What a great way to take a moment and remember. Beautifully done.

  3. You remind me to do as Mr. Rogers says, "...look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Love those helpers and they obviously see love in you too.

  4. I loved reading all of the images and memories in this post. What a lot you have shared about yourself as a person, and what a lot you remind us all of what it means to be kind! You are funny, but also very, very powerful with your words.

  5. Your piece resonated with me. You reminded me of the power of gratitude. Thank you for letting me have a glimpse into your life.