The Kid Business

photoSome of us coach. Some of us teach. Some of us are parents. All of us are in the business of helping kids.

I’ve been a teacher since I was twenty-three and a parent since I was twenty-seven. Both are defining roles in my life, and while I’m a principal now, both are how I see who I am and think about what I do. I know I’m not alone.

That I see so many adults who have dedicated so much of their lives to helping kids succeed isn’t surprising; we all find circles of like minded folks to surround ourselves by. Most of my friends are teachers, and even those who aren’t parents themselves care deeply about making a positive difference in the lives of young people.

That reality is the ether in which I live, not thinking about it very often, simply treating it as a camel treats sand.

Then, this weekend, as I was helping my daughter’s softball coach carry some gear up to the field and listening to him talk about how he and the other coaches had dragged the fields the night before and come in early to chalk the diamonds, it hit me just how much of this kid business we all do for free.

That’s not a complaint, not at all, but a celebration. That so many give so much for no compensation beyond the (occasional) appreciation of the kids and the sense of having made a difference is a reminder of the goodness of human nature, something which I’ll confess to be guilty of overlooking more often than I should.

What this looks like is teachers going out of their way to help students at lunch, before school, and after the last bell has rung. It’s secretaries listening as students open up about the struggles in their lives, counselors going the extra mile to help students find that internship, and coaches making that extra phone call to help a student athlete find a place to play in college. It’s moms driving kids to the pool, aunts and uncles volunteering to help judge speech and debate, and grandparents coming to school to speak to business classes.

And yet the “kid business” is a misnomer; the students aren’t a commodity, but the future of our world. What we do for them, and even more importantly what we do with them, helps to define what our world will become. As we show them kindness and how they can show that kindness to others, the world we share becomes a better place.

Whether we coach, or teach, or parent, whether we cheer on our granddaughters at the field hockey game or coo to our newborn grandsons (as we give our own kids a break from parenting), whether we volunteer, contribute, or say “thank you” and mean it when a youngster gives us a drawing, we all have the opportunity to make a difference in the kid business.

The business of life.

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