You’re a first time parent and you’re scared to death. You are bombarded constantly by stories in the news media of parenting gone wrong. You’re hoping your child won’t be the one running a prostitution ring out of the middle school choir room. Or a meth lab from the trunk of their car. You’re praying your child won’t be bullied – or be one of the bullies. You’re afraid that you’ll need to worry about them sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to meet up with their 52 year old boyfriend. Or that they will run away with a registered sex offender that they met online. You don’t want your son to end up on ‘Maury’ doing a DNA test to find out if he is a father. It’s all you hear about and it’s frightening to think of all the ways teenagers can be influenced.
All joking aside, you pray for their safety, that you can teach them right from wrong, how to work hard and treat people with kindness and respect.
But if you’re lucky as a young parent you’ll know kids in your neighborhood or church or social circle that will give you hope that your vulnerable little bundle of joy can make it to adulthood without being the headline story on Dateline NBC.
I was so lucky that we lived next door to two such kids that I’ve watched grow up since they were 7 and 10. Kids, who were smart, and kind, worked hard to achieve success in sports and school. They were babysitters and friends for my three. They love my kids unconditionally and have knowingly or unknowingly mentored them for more than 20 years. We’ve cheered them on at their sporting events, and they’ve gone out of their way to support mine at theirs. We’ve supported each other through crisis and moments of great celebration. They and their wonderful parents are family to us.
Young parents everywhere need to find these kinds of role models for their children. Older kids who will demonstrate with their actions how to make it through the perils of middle school, high school and college. I’m grateful that we had Tim & Tracy. And hopefully my kids can pay it forward and be examples for the next generation – teenagers and young adults that are far from perfect but give young parents hope that it will be ok.
And now Tim and his beautiful wife Stacy are having a baby of their own. It’s a first for me - the start of a new generation of babies born to friends or family I’ve known as children. Saturday Evan and I were honored to attend a family baby shower - where one of the relatives asked me how I was related – and I explained that technically we’re not family. Just in our hearts.
It doesn’t always take a village - sometimes all it takes is one or two.
photo above of Tracy's last home volleyball game at Ohio University. My kids with the We Heart Tracy signs....