Because Young People

Yesterday when we were at the “Bats and Bees: Friends Not Foes” workshop, I was so encouraged.

Because young people.

There were three high school students helping with the program.  At first I thought they were just there to help that day, but it turns out they were part of the planning too.  Those three young women were there–fully present, engaged, and involved.

And it was such a wonderful thing to see.  They did not sit in a corner on their phones, waiting to be asked to do something.  They went where the children went, they talked and interacted with the little ones, and were an asset to the program.  And when they saw something that needed doing, they got up and did it.  Without being asked.

I very nearly swooned.  Not even joking.

Two of them sat with me as we tried to put the butterfly/Dalek project together in preparation for the children making them.  They were really into it, trying to see how it would best work and determined to make it work.  We talked about their school and their future plans.  They have some good ones, and I was even more impressed.

Later on when the other children were outside playing in the bouncy house, one little one, maybe four years old, came inside.  She had on the sweetest little pink dress with a gauzy skirt, reminiscent of a ballerina.  She had come in because she “didn’t want to keep getting dirty and sweaty.”  Oh my land, baby girl, I hear you.  The humidity yesterday was ridiculous.

One of the teenagers picked her up and said, “That’s okay, you can stay in here with us.  Isn’t that right?”

I walked over and said, “Of course.  What a sweet dress.  I can understand not wanting to get all messed up.”  The little girl smiled.  “What a pretty smile on a pretty girl.”

The teenager smiled too.  “She is pretty.  And strong too.  Show her your muscles.”  And the little one held up her arm and flexed and grinned even bigger.

Teenager.  For the win.

I don’t know if this is something they are teaching these young women or if it is something instilled in her by her family or by her own values, but I am LOVING that she acknowledged the child’s beauty and immediately added words about strength.

I got schooled.

As in I was reminded that it is so important to focus on more than just looks when giving praises.  Which I knew.  But I don’t always put into action.  I love the example this amazing teenager gave of the perfect way to segue into what counts so much.  I even used this later myself yesterday.  Because, you know, I wanted to be like her.

Smart.  And beautiful.  And wise beyond her years.

Tonight I’m thankful for the young women I had the privilege of meeting and seeing in action.  They are only tenth graders, and already they seem to have it all together.  In six or seven years when they get out of college and head to grad school or to full-time careers, they are going to do change this world for the better in big ways.  And small.  Because all the ways matter.

May we all strive to follow their example of being present, being involved, and finding the important things to praise and encourage.

Love to all.

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