…is to stop it before it starts. That needs to become more than a nice idea…
A couple years ago I wrote about being accosted in a bagel shop by a cynic who wanted to debate whether there was hope for curbing addiction. He asked me what I thought anyone could possibly do? Without thinking I said, “Invest in every child you meet.”
That conversation has never left me. The answers are largely beyond what the government, law enforcement, or non profits can do. The answers are always in our communities and in what you and I choose to do.
I need to tell you about a 13 year old girl I learned of recently. A good friend of mine who works in the field asked me for some ideas on how to help her so I’m asking for your help. More importantly, I’m asking that you seek out opportunities like these.
My friend is a great guy – a front line worker for a really solid local agency. He’s a beautiful man who refuses to accept that the system fails kids every day. Most of our conversations center around how we work outside the system to help kids not end up in all the shit we can see coming their way.
He tells me about her life, her family, her diagnosis, her self destruction, the usual gambit. It only takes him five minutes but when he’s done he looks ten years older. Short version of the story: this kid’s life sucks.
I asked him to tell me what she loves.
He thought long and hard and told me, “She loves playing drums.” Awesome! Does she have drums? “No. She gets to play at school but that’s it.” We need to get her a drum set.
My friend looked dubious. I got carried away – “Look, this is an actual thing. I want to sit this kid down and say, “Look. I get it, everything sucks but this is something you’re good at and so this is what you do. Bang the shit out of these things. Take every bit of pain and anger and channel it. Don’t stop until you’re better than everyone in your school. Then keep going until you make Alex Van Halen look like an amateur.”
“It’s not the end all be all. It’s just a way out. It’s something real to focus on. Most of all, it’s something that shows a kid that there are good people in the world and that she can be one of them.”
Simple. Doable. Everything else just feels like a nice idea to me.
If you got a drum set that’s just gathering dust, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org