M didn’t answer. He just smiled. His real answer was just too much for the neighbor to comprehend early in the pre-coffee hours of the morning. But he knew his answer would be, “Because it has nothing to do with ‘on earth’.”
The neighbor was right about one thing. M does have children of his own. And M’s house is “the hang out house” where all kids know they are welcome and safe. On any given Friday or Saturday night there are at least two or three more than his own hanging around, munching on snacks and watching movies. M has always welcomed more than his own. So when the opportunity to mentor in Care for Kids presented itself, it was a natural step for him.
T was his first buddy. And he has stayed with him now for three years. M has crossed over from being “the weird guy I eat lunch with” to “my cool friend”. That is a huge gap to cross. M is so “cool” now – other kids wiggle their way to his table at lunch time. They all talk books. Reading the latest book is now “in”.
Just last week M’s efforts were solidly confirmed. It was right after lunch. T had chosen to stay in from recess and spend a little more time with his mentor friend. They were discussing the latest Rick Riordan book. M caught T looking at him with a pensive stare.
“What’s going through your mind?” M asked respectfully.
“Oh nothing…” T began with the brush off answer. But M knew there was more coming if he could just let it go.
“You know I spend my weeks with Mom and my weekends with Dad. Sometimes it’s not good. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine I am really in these stories. I am the hero. I save the day. “
M smiled – supporting the imagination of a ten year old. But then the most amazing statement came next.’
“You are always there too. You are my sidekick. We save the day together.”
Why on earth do I mess with other people’s kids? Because it has nothing to do with “on earth.”