WANTED: Hero.  No Experience Necessary ...

     Have you ever noticed how the only rotten kids always live down the street?  I mean, YOU're kid… MY kid… they are learning, having problems, working them out.  It is all part of growing up, gaining maturity.  But the kid down the street… he's a rotten kid

     Well, there aren't any rotten kids.  Every kid labeled a loser is one by virtue of the fact that he has never experienced winning.  Ethnic background may limit opportunities, but it cannot defeat a winning attitude.  Winning is a key part of being a success, and I think every kid has to be taught the essential elements of winning.  Or he will never be a winner.

     I was raised in a dysfunctional home where I was never quite sure who I was or what I was, or what was real.  Alcohol was the primary culprit. 

     Whatever I did right while growing up was caused by the channeling of my confusion by a select few wonderful people.  The town librarian; a sweet old woman who taught me the dignity of age; my first faithful, grouchy old boss; several "adopted" Dads and Moms; several specific teachers; and many others.  Most did nothing big.  Just little things, all of which changed my life.

     The names of these wonderful people are not exactly household words… but I know many other boys (now men) who owe them the same debt I do.  Many.  And there were girls too, and… there may be hundreds.  Can you imagine that?  Kids who needed someone, some word of encouragement.  Something not from Mom or Dad.

     One of my sons had a real hard time adjusting to his new school.  He wore real heavy glasses, and was branded a nerd.  At age 12 it doesn't take anything else. 

     He got into a time when he was really clumsy… growing faster than he could keep control of some of his far distant appendages…  Anyway, he joined a math club.  This was a nerd thing to do, but he loved it so much he started telling math jokes

     He worked at it.  He started staying late after school, where some poor schmuck coached him and a half dozen kids in the finer points of math competition.  And he was pretty good.  One day, he went away and won 1st place in a three-state contest.  He brought home a trophy 4 feet tall.  It seems now as though those 4 feet were added directly to his stature.

     The trophy was so big he had to lay it across the laps of two other kids to get in the car.  "Happy" does not describe a reformed nerd lugging in a piece of hardware bigger than he is!  And Mr Myers, his math teacher… the schmuck who worked night after night coaching those kids… God Bless Mr Myers… he stood back quietly… out of the light… and bragged about my son.  He became a different boy.

     This principle, this effort to help a youth in need of guidance, is called "mentoring".  Sometimes, even a perfect Mom and Dad cannot reach a kid who's good sense has fallen prey to puberty or peer pressure.  But he can be saved by someone.  Maybe you are that someone. 

     All successful men and women have had a mentor.  It is easy to do, and we each must do it.  Somehow, you are uniquely positioned to reach down and mentor some kid.  He may be 5 or 25.  You may be rich or poor, big or small, love or hate kids.  You may be the football coach or an elderly widow.  You may have to pay a price to do it.  But some kid needs your help, and will love you forever for throwing him a line.

     Next time you see a "rotten" kid with a real bad attitude, remember that there is a little sign tattooed on his heart, which even he cannot see. 

     "WANTED: Hero.  No Experience Necessary…"