This weekend in Wal-Mart I saw a kid, he’s probably 20 now, with Wranglers, a giant rodeo belt buckle and ropers. He stopped and spoke to several of the older Wal-Mart employees in such a sweet manner that it took me a minute to realize it was John Gun. A kid I’d crossed off my “nice” list when he was 13.
Oh my lord, back then he was such a butt face punk, with greasy hair, jeans sagging way way down low and a Skol ring in his back pocket. He’d spit right in front of me, curse like a crazy hobo in front of my six year old daughter and flip off ever other kid in the school parking lot. He was a nightmare and I didn’t like him. And he’d been a decent boy from a solid family. I was stunned and kind of sickened.
But I watched him in Wal-Mart and it was pretty obvious he was a different young man. Kind of goofy but much improved.
It’s imperative we forgive teenagers, especially the guys, for the vile, moron idiots they sometimes become in high school. I don’t know why they do it but we have to forgive them or we will deprive ourselves.
There was a kid in our Taekwon do school, I watched him grow up, he was my buddy and I taught him how to drive a stick shift. Then, when he turned 15 something horrible happened to him. Not only did his face break out he became sullen, rude and mean spirited. He had terrible posture and didn’t care who he hurt verbally or physically. I wanted to run over James. I wanted him to get arrested. We all tried to talk to him, to counsel him, to sympathize or deliver tough lough. Nothing worked. for three years he was just a horrible jerk with really bad grades.
Today, James is twenty, he’s married to a beautiful sweet smart girl, he’s a special ranger super duper soldier guy with the United States Army. He sends me funny notes and pictures on Facebook.
James has never apologized for the monster he was in High School and he never will. Maybe he doesn’t even realize what a heart breaking troll he was. The important thing is, he’s an awesome young man now and he makes me proud every day.
We all know kids like these and we have to find a way to forgive them and appreciate the young men they become. Just let it go. I know for a while I couldnt’ do it and the only person I hurt (they didn’t miss the friendship of a middle aged woman) was myself.
If you do know a kid that’s turned into some horrible sinister version of himself you don’t need to be his buddy right now, especially if he’s not related to you. Sometimes that’s too hard. But do yourself a favor and wait for him on the other side of manhood. You might be surprised.