He is often quiet when there is little need to be, casting a shade of shyness and his smiles to the sidewalk. It is the benefit of blinders: impressively oblivious to any person in the room beyond the boundary of his play, until they fall suddenly into focus. Otherwise, he is full of song and sounds and the careless dance of those unwatched. He is free and freely silly. However, shine a spotlight upon him, and he wilts from the attention, just one more flower pressed dry from the heat of the moment.
Needless to say, when he said that he wanted to create a club at his school, I was a bit apprehensive. After all, starting a group usually means talking to it – and doing so in a manner that doesn’t include robot noises. At least not for your first impression.
Yet, he wanted to start a club regardless of any social apprehension that he personally may have felt. He saw a need and he needed to address it, even if doing so yanked him firmly out of his own comfort zone, and put him squarely in the aforementioned spotlight.
The club in question, Students for the Protection of Animals in the Environment (S.P.A.E.), is exactly what it sounds like: the betterment of the planet and our collective health by ensuring the survival of every species – furry, scaled, feathered, or other. A club based in passion, love, and empathy.
Granted, the club may not have the flash of your more prominent middle school social ventures, but there is no shortage of tween spirit. The kids that joined – and lots of them did – joined to do good. They joined because they saw a need, and with it, a kid willing to do something about it. That kid was my quiet, silly son, with a heart so big he just had to share it.
That’s the thing about kids: they’re pretty awesome.
It’s easy to lose sight of that as society yells for them to turn down their music, pull up their pants, and get off the proverbial lawn.
Kids like to do good things, and, generally speaking, their lack of doing so isn’t based in apathy, but ignorance. It’s hard for kids to get involved, because all too often kids are the recipients of good works (rightfully so), but not invited to participate in the acts that make good happen. Those doing the heavy lifting tend to view children as underfoot and in the way, a liability of insurance and safety, too small and too slow to add to productivity – none of it meant with any sort of malice, but there is a job to do and many think that kids can’t do it.
Fun fact: kids can do a lot of things if we just give them the chance. Sometimes they make their own chances.
So it was, that my son approached the superintendent of the school district to ask for his help in starting the club. This led to said superintendent becoming the official advisor and sponsor of the S.P.A.E., middle school chapter. Needless to say, having the superintendent on the roster tends to open a few doors.
Now my son leads meetings, the superintendent by his side, and together with like-minded kids, they plan activities and events that will support the cause they so passionately believe in. And then they go to P.E., or whatever.
It probably goes without saying, but his mother and I are pretty proud, and not only because the club is a good one, doing great things, but because of the personal obstacles that he had to overcome to put the whole thing in motion (and keep it there). I suppose if there were a moral to this story – and it seems like most stories with animals have one – it is that kids can do whatever they set their mind to, and if we can’t assist in the process, we should at least have the courtesy to get out of their way. After all, the future isn’t going to save itself.
What have your kids accomplished that you’re super proud of? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
Posted on October 29, 2015