Sunday, February 18, 2007

blog-able moments

The way I see it, each day is full of blog-able moments...moments that, upon further reflection, can be seen to have deeper meaning that we realize. Anyway, this week, there were two particular events that left me reflecting for hours and days afterward:
  1. The Old Spaghetti Factory: On Thursday afternoons, I tutor reading for boys and girls at the Martha O'Bryan center in east Nashville. These are kids who need extra help with reading skills and comprehension. We usually read a story and talk about various reading skills associated with the story. But, this Thursday, a group of nine of them had reached the goal of reading 400 pages, so we were scheduled to go to dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Nashville. The nine munchkins and I were dropped at the door while the other adults parked the van, so we sat around in the lobby talking about how nice the building was. As we were all waiting for our table to be ready, one of the little boys looked at me and one of the other adults and asked, "Why is this place so full of white people? Where are all the black people?" It now dawns on me that I failed to mention that all of our students are black. One of the other adults stammered out an "I don't know," and he was off to look at a scale in the corner that other kids were standing on. As I stood there thinking about that little boy's question, I realized that the only black people I could see in the restaurant were the two hostesses. Not one black person was actually dining in the restaurant or having a drink at the bar. If I were to be honest and answer that little boy's question, I would probably say something like, "Well, most of the black people who live in downtown and East Nashville can't afford to eat here." We still live in that world. A world segregated by socio-economic class and race. Anyway, that little boy's questions continues to gnaw at me.
  2. Youth Lock-In: This past Friday night, the youth of Harpeth had a lock-in. We began the night with a Parents' Night Out fundraiser hosted by the sr. highs and then, at 10:00, the little kids went home, the middle school youth showed up, and the lock-in began. But, shortly before 10:00, three young ladies I'd never seen before walked in the door. As they were introducing themselves, I smelled alcohol on their breath. That's right. Someone had dropped off thre drunk eight grade girls at our lock-in. I asked them to call their parents and have them come right back. Oh, did the stories start flying at that point. "My Mom's out of town." "My Mom's not picking up." etc, etc. So, finally, two of them get picked up, and one of them is still trying to get ahold of a parent. Well, a few minutes later, other youth are running up to me to tell me that she had thrown up. To make a long story short, one of my adults had to take her home as she threw up in a trash can the whole way there. When that adult got back, there was a man in the parking lot asking for gas money. On a Friday night? Are you kidding me? Then, as the night progressed, there was the inevitable drama of girls flirting with boys and boys paying attention to the "wrong" girls and the "right" girls being upset, and crying, and he said and she said and wandering around like zombies in search of brains. Finally, at 5:00 am, everyone realized that it was snowing, so they put on their shoes and their North Face jackets and walked around in packs out in the parking lot. Yes, it was 20 degrees and they were all standing around in a pack under a street light in our church parking lot. Ah, the sociology of adolescents. I'd like to go back in time and find the guy or gal who invented lock-ins and take them out...kind of like the Terminator and John Connor, only I wouldn't have any pity like the Terminator did.
OK, enough rambling for now.


Jerilyn said...

Great post. What a weekend you had. Kudos to you for giving up your time to read (and eat with) kids... "out of the mouths of babes..." I wish more white folks could experience what you did through the words of that sweet child.

I heard once that Youth Ministry is the highest calling... I think this was illustrated in your lock-in tales. I freaking HATE lock-ins, but what an experience to get to see their innocence and wonder once the snow started... they ARE just children. Bless you in your ministry, dear friend.

Teri said...

I love lock-ins....until I actually have to show up for one. Then I have this feeling like exactly the things you describe could happen at any moment!

I have a confirmation lock-in this weekend.

I think I might not like them so much after this....

katie said...

i don't do lock-ins for all of these reasons, although the snow bit sounds lovely.

you're a star :)

Andy said...

I actually like lock-ins although your lock-in my friend was The Lock-In From Hell.

Nate said...

Lock-in's are awsome!
Signed: Drunk eigth Graders and Parents who aren't there

Amy said...

Oh geez, and I thought the Silly String incident was bad... You're a good man, Alan, a good man.