Being Big for Kids, Everything

Being Big for Kids: Missing a Meeting

Being Big for Kids 2.0 (5)This is the seventh post in a series on being part of a Big Couple through Big Brothers Big Sisters. If you haven’t read the previous posts and would like more context, click here for an archive of the posts. 

Well it finally happened. We had to cancel a meeting with our Little. It wasn’t because our Little did anything wrong. It wasn’t because we did anything wrong. It wasn’t because we wanted to cancel the meeting.

That day, my husband had to work, and we had scheduled our meeting to start around 5:00-5:30. It also happened to be the birthday of my husband’s closest brother.

In the days leading up to that day, we had tried to get a strict time on when and where we would be celebrating his brother’s birthday to no avail.

Finally, the day of, we got word: it would be on the opposite side of town where our Little lived and it would be at about 6:45.

Knowing this was a school night, I had Daniel call our Little’s mother to check if a later meeting (around 8:30 for about an hour) would be okay. It was, so we decided to try both events.

Us at the birthday dinner. I'm on the right in the yellow next to my husband.
Us at the birthday dinner. I’m on the right in the yellow next to my husband with the hat. The rest are my in-laws, in-laws to be, and a family friend.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Our waiter didn’t get our checks to us until 8:00 and they were all wrong, mixed up, and he had to re-do them (poor fellow, there were eight of us with several people paying together and wanting to pay for parts of the birthday boy’s meal).

We called our Little’s mom and apologized.

And that’s how our meeting got cancelled.

To be frank, it sucked. I was upset.

I thought back to when I was a kid (and to certain times present-day) and how I would have been devastated to be looking forward to something only to have it not happen.

I’m pretty empathetic, and it was easy to imagine what Ryan might have been going through. Best case scenario, he just brushed it off, but still, Daniel and I owe him a big, in-person apology.

Now, I want to figure out how to not let this happen again, and I’ll do it by doing one of the things I do best: analyzing.

Overall thoughts and lessons learned:

-Though we tried to think everything through and plot out how our evening would go, the world had other lessons for us to learn.

-We probably should have rescheduled our meeting with our Little right when we found out there might have been a conflict. Daniel doesn’t get to spend much time with his brother, so I knew he wouldn’t want to miss the get-together if he didn’t have to. But I was worried we might not have a whole lot of time the following week to reschedule our meeting, and I didn’t want to keep our Little waiting.

-Sometimes things happen and feelings get hurt, but open communication can help ease the hurt.

-Don’t be discouraged. Plan the next meeting, and keep going.

-Being a Big is not all sunshine and daisies. There are sometimes things that are going to happen that get in the way of spending time with your Little, and it’s not anything a Big wants to experience.

-Sometimes, there are conflicts with one’s BBBS family and with one’s biological family.

-Just be open with your Little’s family about what’s going on, and things should hopefully work out.

Are you (or have you been) part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program? Have you had to cancel a meeting or had a Big cancel a meeting? What was that like and how did you prevent it in the future?

Let me know in the comments below! 


On Turning Twenty-One

I turned 21 this year, and I think the experience was different for me than it was for a lot of my peers.

After starting at university at 15 and graduating at 20, I felt like I have been 21 for a long time.

All of my friends are in their mid-twenties at this point, and there I was, the minor. But nobody remembered my age (which didn’t help me remember it either)! I cannot tell you how many times I was invited to 21 and over restaurants, bars, parties, etc. and had to decline because of my age.

Then, I would be met with the awkward conversation of, “Oh, I forgot how young you were… sorry.” But then a little while later, I would find myself back at that conversation. However, worse than having to decline an invitation is being neglected completely, and luckily, that hasn’t happened often.

Second, I have been left out of so many opportunities because of my age, and it sucks.

How I spent my birthday: Breakfast with family. Dinner with my husband and a friend. Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.
How I spent my birthday: Breakfast with family. Dinner with my husband and a friend. Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.

Twice, I missed opportunities to network with people in my career field because their chosen venue did not allow those under 21 years old. Most recently, this happened just ten days before my 21st birthday.

I don’t blame my peers (the world does not revolve around me; there will always be more networking opportunities), but I do think that we, as a country, need to reevaluate our legal drinking age.

How insane is it that I was able to have a B.A., vote, be married, and do a lot of other things, but I couldn’t network with people in my career field because of my age?

With that, I wouldn’t have even been able to sit in the passenger’s seat while my husband drove with a learner’s permit. No matter that I had five years of driving experience, a college degree, or that I was married to him; I couldn’t sit there because I was only twenty.

My young age hasn’t just been a curse and a source of angst for me, though. I have been able to learn from watching my friends turn 21 and go through the struggles of being “old enough.”

I have learned that drinking too much leads to getting too friendly with the commode.

I have learned that being “old enough” means bearing more responsibilities for yourself than you previously had to.

I have learned that drinking isn’t the point of turning 21. The point is to learn self-control.

The best part is that I didn’t have to learn any of this “the hard way.” I was able to learn it all from the comfort of my home and “under-21” venues (i.e., restaurants).

I still have four years until my brain is fully developed, so I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. However, the lessons I learned before turning 21 are those that many people don’t learn until after 21. I believe that the best way to learn about our limits with alcohol, to prevent alcohol-related injuries and driving violations, to allow students to focus on their work, and to let us learn these lessons is to lower the legal age of drinking and let kids get it out before they get behind the wheel.

I definitely don’t have the answers, nor have I personally done research on the matter, but I do have my own personal experiences, and I believe that it’s high time we reevaluate our policy towards alcohol… especially since so many kids drink anyway. Let their first experiences be with their parents, not hiding away with friends.

Turning 21 was very symbolic for me. It meant that, for the first time, I would feel truly a part of my circle of friends and feel somewhat competent in front of my peers. I am no longer “that girl that had to stay behind.” Now I can go out with my peers, not drink (or drink just a little), and not be conscious of my young age.

Current Events, Everything

On Making Change

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Many people choose to use their voice. Some voices are louder than others. Some are more articulate and thought-through. Some are emotional. Some are timid.

I know people who use their ability to captivate an audience to their advantage. They are able to inform others online and in person with facts at the drop of a hat, and they know it. I have a friend who can express everything I’m feeling long before I’ve ever figured out the right words. Those people are inspiring.

I also know people who may not be so good at coming up with what to say, so they “share” or refer to those who use their words well. That’s okay. I’m one of those people a lot of the time.

My friend does a lot to make change. She uses her voice, her right to vote, her influence on social media, and so much more to make change. It’s in her blood.

Like her, some people make change by using their voice. Some use media (social and otherwise). Some look to politics. Some look to education (for themselves and others). Some prefer to team up and work with people. Some choose to hold demonstrations and protests. Some take a strong and public stand against injustices in our world. Some are terrified, for reasons that don’t have to be known, to express their opinions publicly.

There are so many ways to make change; you just have to pick one. You don’t have to be like my friend and take a strong public stance, but you have to do something. If you don’t want to be in the public eye, reach out to those who do speak up loudly and ask how you can make change. They’ll have ideas. The only thing you can’t do is nothing.

I’m a fan of the band Rush, and they have a lyric that goes “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though they aren’t talking about making change, the lyric still rings true for me.

My biggest point is that, no matter how you choose to make change, understand that everyone has their own way of making a difference. No one facing the same goal should criticize one another on how they choose to make change. We all need to stand together and use our strengths to our advantage. Not everyone can stand up and be a strong-voiced leader, but we all have our own way of making change; we just have to start doing it.

And we all have to stand together and support one another.

No goal gets accomplished if we all bicker over how to best make change. We all make change differently, and we all have to support each other. So if you would rather demonstrate with a group, do it. If you would rather be a loud voice on social media, do it. If you would rather make a movie about injustices, do it. If you would rather be a supporting voice rather than the main voice, do it. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone.

Working as a team gets more done than fighting with one another about who’s making the best change and why. We all just have to work together and do it.

So whether you want people to know how what’s happening in Ferguson affects us and that #BlackLivesMatter; or whether you want to make your community stronger; or whether you want to fight racial (or any other) injustices; or whether you want to make any other kind of change, find your way and do it.

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Now you just have to find your way and do it.


A Case for Writing by Hand

Can you imagine trying to make it through university without being able to write by hand to take notes? I sure can’t. I thought administrators in education might’ve been going too far with suggesting cursive should be removed from formal education. However, the possible removal of an emphasis on handwriting seems ridiculous. I doubt I’m alone in saying this, but I always find that I learn material better after I’ve written it out by hand. Handwriting shouldn’t become a “lost art” known to the few who pursue it. It almost makes me think of the not-so-recent past where people didn’t learn how to write and paid others to write for them. That should not become the norm again. Writing has been the best tool for my education and mental health. Without the ability to write (and write clearly at that), I don’t think I would have done as well in my time at school.

Also, what of writing in journals? Blogging is one thing, but I don’t think it does the same thing for me as writing in a journal. Personally, I write in a journal to catalog my life experiences (many of them too personal for the internet), and I don’t believe it would provide the same mental relief for me if I were to type out my entries.

There is nothing more stress-relieving for me than writing in my journal.
There is nothing more stress-relieving for me than writing in my journal.

Here are some things I find rewarding and useful about writing by hand:

  1. The accomplishment of filling a notebook or journal (I wrote my first book in eighth grade by hand in notebooks).
  2. Similarly, I can see the physical amount of the pages I’ve written and the notes I’ve taken.
  3. It helps me remember the material of which I write (I memorize lines for plays much easier after I write them out by hand).
  4. It can look pretty, and I can feel accomplished about its aesthetic appearance.
  5. My notes and journals aren’t at risk of deletion by way of computer or internet (though I will admit fires and water damage come close).
  6. Notebooks and diaries can be passed down, which can be special moments.
  7. I feel much more relieved after ranting through handwriting than I do when typing or texting my feelings.

Of course, these are just my feelings on the benefits of handwriting. There are probably many more that have a much more scientific basis. Regardless, as someone who frequently chooses handwriting over typing, I feel that a loss of an emphasis on handwriting would be a loss to future generations.

“Man builds no structure that outlives a book” — Carl Elliot


With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

And writers have a great power…one they may not realize.

When I was a child, I used to think that publishers wouldn’t print books that had false information in them; something I now know not to be true. I wonder if laypeople back in the day thought the same, especially since printing a book was such an expensive and laborious process.

“How did the two sides even share the umbrella title of ‘Christian’? Is there room for both under that banner? This is a question we can ask retrospectively of the slave era in America. But it’s also a question with contemporary implications. Can those who advocate polices that appear completely antithetical to the message of Christ share the same banner of ‘Christian’ with those who insist that Christ came to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and minister to the ‘least of these’?”

This quote from Yolanda Pierce’s article Slavery and Religious Rhetoric” really shows me just how powerful words are. The fact that a book, written such a long time ago, can still have such an effect on people and how they function, as well as such a negative effect on people is astounding. I have hard time processing how people can adopt these words as complete truth on face value, but it happens. Even when it comes to modern-day policy, people are still using texts read at face value, such as the Bible, to try and make laws that justify oppression. With such strong modern implications, we can see that when a writer takes pen to paper (or hand to keyboard), they have a purpose and intent, whether it’s good or malign.

I think that if we are to adopt these people’s ideas, we should not adopt them based off of their word that their text is correct. I think we should put policies into action if they better all people, not because they are what someone’s religious text says.

Regardless, it just goes to show how powerful a written word is. It shows me that, as a writer, the things I put on paper (now on the web) can have great future implications.

What do you think? Do writers, especially where so much of what they write isn’t printed, still have a great responsibility when writing, or was that lost when we stopped printing what we write (unless it’s a novel, of course)?