These past 2 weeks I’ve been finding it hard to say what was on my mind because I couldn’t find the words to say. I started off being angry, then sad, and then little helpless. I work at a youth center and though it is very fun, playing games and connecting with the youth, you learn down the line very early that there are no just one solution to a problem and you, as the adult, do not hold all the answers. What? Me! The one that is Miss Problem Solver, who has “everything” under control , doesn’t have answers?! That’s impossible, but yes I don’t, I do admit. When you are suppose to be there as a solution to a problem, it can weigh you down when you just can’t do it. You feel like a failure. You do. And I don’t want to make this about me because really, the issue I am addressing is I do see the youth not receiving the proper tools to grow into healthy, strong adults, and when they reach that certain age of man/womanhood, you are hoping that they can survive and sustain in this big bad world by themselves.
I see it. The ones that grow up but don’t want to “grow up” because they know deep down inside they don’t know if they will make it. They shelter themselves remaining in the cocoon, because here they are safe. Here is where they feel adequate. Can it be a normal phase in life where you are not quite a man not quite a child so you walk clumsily through the cracks, then maybe you will awake from your stupor and become the shining example you were meant to be? That is very possible, maybe its just about time, and the time will come for self-realization. What happens to the ones that stay in slumber? I’m in a place where I see children turned-adults not wanting to let go of things that are childish and child programs. In fact, they feel entitled and instead of mentoring, they still want it for themselves. And I get it, because why? They don’t have much for themselves to hold on to, so why would they want to give away the one thing that gives them pleasure and value? We are a youth organization and that is my plight because what happens to the others that aren’t youth status anymore and are left out?
Here is that meat being cooked. Something that can’t be solved overnight, this is not a one-step program that we follow and pouf! It is gone. Its so much in stake that each case is unique but I will try to simplify. A lot of the times, kids don’t know what they are good at and from there they lack direction. How does a boy/girl get ambitious if they don’t know what they’re good at? They may not need to know what program in college right off the bat, for me I was indecisive too but if I had a choice. Youth with choices is great. The art of encouragement is key.
You sing “I believe the children is our future” but it feels like schools are getting cheaper and cheaper. There used to be other classes like art, music, dance, home ec, classes that nurtured your creativity and independence.We don’t believe its important to the development but I am, Sam I Am, says its IMPORTANT. Creative expression is important. Learning how to cook is important. Having the room to be yourself is important. You are lucky if there is extra-curricular activities. And teachers are over-worked. These are the people that spend more time with your kids then you do at times. That may not be by choice, I know life is expensive, but how crazy this is that stability at home is a luxury, not a given and the outside world is raising the youth.
But more often, I see this with the black youth, especially in Quebec. Our presence is not represented. We are the minority and if you speak English, then more so. That is just the way it is, I felt like this since I was a youngin’ myself and never felt that my image was reflected in society. I had to go search for it to feel a sense of belonging. Be aware of this because this how the youth fall through the cracks and take on the stereotype. We need to feed our kids with confidence. It doesn’t help what is being portrayed in the media. I had a boy who got called for an interview but when he came in, the manager said there was no job post. That just happened 2 weeks ago.
To raise and mentor the next generation is not an easy feat. Takes time, patience and insight, things that I sometimes need to search for. Takes feeling like a failure, like you haven’t done enough. Maybe we can’t save the world but we do the best we can. We can’t expect society to raise our girls and boys for us. We need do it by holding their hands and clapping them when its time they fly.
“What is the trouble? It is simple. We are spending one dollar for education where we should spend ten dollars. If tomorrow we multiplied our effort to educate the next generation ten-fold, we should begin our bounden duty…
If we realized that children are the future, that immortality is the present child, that no education which educates can be possibly too costly…that no nation tomorrow will call itself civilized which does not give every single human being college and vocational training free and under the best teaching force procurable for the love and money…
All our problems center in the child. All our hopes, our dreams are for our children. Has our own life failed? Let its lesson save the children’s lives from similar failure. Is democracy a failure? Train up citizens that will make it succeed. Is wealth too crude, too foolish in form, and too easily stolen? Train up workers with honor and consciences and brains…Is there anything we could accomplish with human beings? Do it with the immortal child, with a stretch of endless time for doing it and with infinite possibilities to work on.” – W.E.B. Du Bois from “Darkwater: Voices From Within The Veil”