Tag Archives: team

Rich Kid, Poor Kid

My wife and I picked up my step-son from his grandparents’ house after school on Thursday.  As is my habit, I asked him about his day.  He huffed and started telling us that a kid at school had called him poor and was trying to keep his classmates from sitting with him (like a modern version of the cooties).  The frustration was very evident in his voice.  At ten years of age, he wasn’t properly equipped to defend his parents’ financial position.  Digging deeper, I asked him what had prompted this hubbub.  It was a paper bag.  Because Carter takes his lunch to school in a paper bag, he is being labeled poor.  What has happened to society?  

Friday night after soccer, he wanted one of his teammates to spend the night.  I had earlier overhead his friend attempting to make other arrangements.  Rather than have anyone feel left out, I made the executive decision to let 2 of his teammates come over for an all night battle to save the universe by way of the Xbox.  

Mark has been to our home several times.  But this was Jeremy’s first visit and after exploring our home, he exclaimed to me in amazement, with Carter present, “Y’all must be rich!”  I’m not sure what Jeremy’s family’s financial situation is, but it must not be the best for him to consider us “rich.”  We are by no means wealthy by most people’s standards.  Comfortable maybe, but not rich.

In just over 24 hours, my stepson had been called poor and rich.

Sunday night, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him and asked him to talk about both incidents.  He was still angry at being called poor.  “Why does that make you angry?” I asked.  “Because I have a computer, a cell phone, and an iTouch” he replied.  I continued, “Do you think having those things makes you rich?”   He paused.  I think he wanted to answer “yes” but something told him it wasn’t the RIGHT answer.

I then asked if he thought we were rich.  “No” he answered.  

“What makes someone rich?”

Another long pause.

“Lots of money?” he guessed.

Before I answered I had to think carefully, because this was a critical learning moment.  What does make someone rich?

“Being rich is having God, family and friends in your life.”  It was the best I could come up with and the longer I dwelt upon it, it really is the right age appropriate answer.

I hugged him goodnight and as I was walking out the door, he said “Chris, if that’s what rich is, I’m really really rich.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

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Coached by an 11 Year Old

Since I’ve had kids old enough to play sports or participate in team activities, I’ve coached.  My resume includes T-ball, softball, baseball, football, soccer, & Destination Imagination (check this one out).  Every team & child has had a distinct personality, but over time the kids have grown up, some are even married with kids of their own.   I’ve forgotten names and the faces are now blurry.  But often, one touches my heart.  

This year it’s Ethan (not his real name).  Ethan is obese.  During warm ups at soccer practice, he struggles to stretch.  When time comes to run a lap, he always goes last because he doesn’t want to hold up the line.  From the outside, there’s nothing remarkable.  I coached teams in the past years that’s played against him, and never really gave him a second thought.  However this year, I’ve discovered there’s a very special person shining bright for those that get to know him.

The first thing I noticed about Ethan was his manners.  He never asks or answers a question without a please or sir.  That is, unfortunately, becoming a rare trait in today’s youth.  Ethan is the first to help up a fallen team mate, or offer knuckles or a high five for a nice play.  His smile is infectious, as is his positive attitude.  

Friday night at practice, I asked him his plans for the night.  He said he was going home, getting his homework finished, so he could spend the rest of the weekend being awesome.  “What did you say?”  I asked.  He repeated his plans.  I was blown away by his answer.  It sat on my brain all night and I had to get more details.

After Saturday’s game, I asked Ethan how his Friday night went.  He said it was fine.  I then asked him what he meant the night before by “being awesome.”  He said that he thinks of ways to be a better person, and ways to be nice to other people.  Holy crap.  This is an 11 year old kid!  I patted his shoulder and told him to never stop being awesome.  He looked up and said “Never!” and jogged off to his parents.

I’m amazed at kid’s attitude.  Instead of feeling left out or embarrassed by his obesity, as I sometimes do (by definition, I’m obese as well), he totally ignores it and creates light in the darkness.  

I think I’m the one being coached this season, by an 11 year old, and I’ll gladly forfeit my title to be just like him.

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