Monday 10th February, 2014
Today I was reminded about the role we can play in peoples’ lives. The conversations we have day in, day out, and the opportunities to make a difference, whether it be a kind word or a moment of encouragement. These days with the DBM project, I seem to be unconsciously looking, and finding, what are often small windows of opportunity. A moment to be kind, a second to be generous. Sometimes I miss them, but I am becoming better at seizing and making the best of any moment I have.
When I was small my father would tell me the story of when I was born and he and my mother brought me home from the hospital. He drove yellow cabs most of the night and would come home at the end of his shift, and sit by my cot to gaze at me sleeping for hours. He used to tell me that he thought I was the most amazing thing he had ever done, and for many years he could not get over the fact that I was his daughter – he felt so blessed.
Now I’ve seen my baby photos. I was a bald little tyke, and as a toddler I had a mop of dark strawberry blonde hair that eventually morphed into a deep red. I was so pale that parts of my body were a shade of violet blue and years later you can clearly tell that I grew up in a time when kids were pushed out into the sun covered in baby oil or coconut oil to ‘toughen up’ or as I remember it: survive 3rd degree sunburn.
Not to take away from my father’s adoration, but I wasn’t exactly the cutest pumpkin in the patch. However you couldn’t tell my father that. He was my biggest fan!
As the years went past and I grew up, my one person fan club was there for everything.
When I played an angel in the nativity scene at our kinder Christmas play, there was my dad, smiling away and clapping as loud as any of the other parents.
When I painted my first picture, my dad raved about my artistic skill to whoever would listen…or, er, not listen.
When I danced, brought home a good report card, wrote stories, acted, danced again, had my own children, graduated from university, got married, taught my first class…there was my dad, as proud as punch, telling me how great I was.
Now, I should also add that there were many times my father was not too pleased with my behaviour. When I was brought home by the police for being a juvenile delinquent (aka being a teenager, hanging out on the streets late at night), Dad wasn’t too happy about it. In fact his silent disapproval was much more effective than my mother’s yelling.
However, for most the time Dad was my greatest fan and my most dedicated supporter.
These days there is some fantastic research about how children or adolescents need only one adult to have faith in you to make a difference in your capacity for resilience.
(It’s a bit like the power of one drop of water. Individually we are one drop, but together we make a powerful ocean.)
When someone sees something in you, when you know that they believe in you, you develop the confidence to shine. To take that risk. To give it a go.
Knowing that someone, even if it is just one person, has our back, also helps us to navigate the difficult or nightmarish moments, when life doesn’t go too well. As a child or a teenager we don’t have a store of life experiences to measure our current experiences against. So no matter how intelligent or mature a young person may be, they are often experiencing many life lessons for the first time. And often they become overwhelmed and lost, not knowing if what they are experiencing and feeling is normal or not. If it’s a difficult situation, then having an adult to support, encourage and most importantly believe in you, will make a massive difference in how you survive, learn and grow.
At some time in your own childhood or adolescence there would have been an adult who played that role in your life. Who believed in you? Who had your back? Who made you feel like you were a champion and could climb mountains? I’m sure that like my dad, they gave you a massive sense of security, but perhaps they were also the one who gave you a gentle nudge to do better, to achieve the greatness you were destined for.
As an adult then, it’s not only a responsibility but also an honour to play that role in a child or a young persons life. It’s also an honour to continue to play that role in the lives of the adults around you.
Perhaps you don’t have any children or teenagers around you that you are close to, but I’m sure that you have friends, work colleagues, neighbours and family members that still need that one person who believes in their greatness. That one person who they trust to show up for them. That one person who is prepared to give them that gentle nudge to take that leap.