The other night our oldest nephew came into our bedroom to show us a paper that came in the mail. It was a letter from UH Manoa saying he was officially and fully admitted, and ready to register in about 10 days. He was very proud of this, and he should be (and so are my wife and I). You see when he came to live with us, just before his 14th birthday, he was not the kind of kid who you would think would be headed to college. In fact you may even have doubted he would graduate high school. And if you were him…in a moment or rare vulnerability he revealed, you would have thought he would never have lived to see his high school graduation. The why and what happened are private…but let’s just say he was not headed in a good direction.
So what happened? He made a decision to change the course of his life. It was all from HIM. He did it all on his own. What was different? My wife and I gave him something his life has lacked, and that was stability. A home he would always be able to go back to, a fridge with (real) food that did not go empty, and an environment with positive values and goals. You see I believe that those “troubled kids” are often that way because they don’t have an opportunity to make better choices. Nature vs. Nurture? That’s a long standing debate, for me it’s clear, given a shot at better circumstances those kids can & will begin to make better choices. When a kid has a bed of his own, food in his belly, and no worries about “bad guys” coming in the night, he can worry about grades. He can worry about a future. He can worry about what people think of him. He can dream, he can achieve, he can grow, and he can prosper.
I don’t deny that my wife and I have helped…but I’m telling you, nothing would have happened without him deciding to do it.
I was especially proud of him when I saw the letter from the university. I always thought he had the brains to get there, and I also thought that he wanted to go. What was important to me is that he did it himself. There were bumps with paperwork & other financial aide things and he handled them himself. Once was a time were he would cave at the first sign of difficulty. Not here, not now. The self esteem and self belief that he deserved to make a better life drove him to overcome. From “I don’t give a sh*t” to “I can do it”. If that isn’t growth, I don’t know what is.