Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eager Young Minds

I was a surprise when my mom found out that she was expecting me.  My parents already had two, a girl and a boy two years apart, she was close to 40 and hadn't planned on any more.  But five years after my brother was born, lo and behold, here I came!  Of course because of their ages, my two older siblings were closer to each other than either one was to me, and I was (and still am) the baby of the family. 

With busy parents who had spent most of their energy raising the first two, I spent a lot of time playing by myself, and I was always eager to be a part of the forbidden "big kids" world.  Yet every once in a while my brother, 5 years older than I, would take it upon himself to explain the world to me. Just things in general, stuff I didn't particularly ask about. He'd get a notion that he wanted to teach me about what he was learning in history class, and he'd launch into this fascinating explanation of life in the 1700's.  Or sometimes he'd tell me all about the life of spies (as if he really knew).  And though I couldn't understand much, the fact that someone cared enough to talk to me meant the world.

"You know Evelyn," he said once, "back in the days of the wild west, people weren't so concerned about taking baths all the time.  They would just do it on Sunday mornings before church and the rest of the week just wipe themselves down with a cloth."  I was amazed. "Look at how wasteful we are these days with modern showers and all these shampoos.  We're ruining the environment because we're too obsessed with bathing every day." It was a revelation.  The heavens parted and I saw the light and the error of my ways.  I made a solemn vow right then and there that I would only bathe once a week.

I didn't enjoy this new vow and I really missed a good scrubbing in my daily shower, but because of the kindness of my "mentor" who took the time to enlighten his little tag-along sister with his wisdom, I willingly endured my suffering to know that somehow I was benefitting the planet.  How being grimy and smelly made the world a better place, I wasn't too sure, but if my brother said so, then it had to be.

Needless to say, this didn't last long when my mother discovered that my hair was a mess and I was roundly scolded for what she thought was laziness.  I went back to my old routine of a shower every night, but I never got upset with my brother for giving me bad advice.  The kindness of his attention meant everything to me, and for that I was eternally grateful.  I have always had a special spot in my heart for my brother even though we barely see each other any more and we both have our own lives and families.  He cared and valued me when I felt like no one else did.

There are kids around us, just waiting for someone to take them under their wing and give them some kindness, attention and guidance  Sure there are the kids that don't want to learn from anyone (or at least they act that way) but there are plenty who may go unnoticed.  There are things in this world that are confusing to them and to have someone take the time to make sense of it all for their young minds, could make all the difference for their futures. 

Just make sure they take their baths.