In 2017, we’re really bad at delayed gratification. Even the microwave isn’t fast enough. I want results and I want them yesterday.
But for most of the really important things, we need to play The Long Game.
I write this on the feast day of St. Monica, a fourth-century African woman best known as the mother of Augustine, who was breaking his mother’s heart with his immoral lifestyle.
This holy woman followed her brilliant, worldly son all over Italy. Her best weapon, aside from proximity, was nearly 20 years of unceasing heart-rending prayer for him. Who (after he came under the tutelage of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan) we now know as St. Augustine, author of City of God and Confessions, and a Doctor of the Church.
Persistence pays off, people. A good teacher never hurts, either.
It’s easy to see kids as they are, and not as they will be. Even for those of us with a vivid imagination.
But: there is a tomorrow. And the world doesn’t stop spinning when they turn 18.
And that goes for our college-bound students, and for our kids who don’t like math and don’t like school. Those are my people, by the way.
I read a couple of success stories today that made me smile. One was of a student of mine a year ago, a cross-country runner who is rebounding from injuries and took first place at an invite over the weekend.
He ran well at the state track finals last May and has put in the work all summer, so this win wasn’t altogether unexpected.
The second item made me do a double-take.
Woah. A solid student and a good football player in high school, he made a name for himself at a JUCO outside of Chicago, but the NFL is pretty much uncharted territory for a school not known as a football factory.
Good for him. But there were others, you know.
One of the more interesting and unusual teachers I had in high school was my Journalism teacher, Ms. Mayer. All “creatives” stereotypes aside she was the type who dropped Jefferson Airplane references into her lectures, carried a travel mug of coffee everywhere (before Starbucks was a thing), challenged our thinking and let free spirits fly their freak flag.
I was a wannabe jock at the time. Her take on the jock culture in high school was: yes, the football players and cheerleaders should march in the Homecoming parade. Of course. But so should the girls who work at Burger King, the guys who fix cars with their dads after school, and the kids who play in garage bands. Why was their extra-curricular activity not recognized?
Know what? She was right.
Those guys I wrote about up there? They earned the newspaper coverage they got. Don’t take that away from them. But I also keep in touch with a lot of former students via social media. With some space between them and high school, they are now moms, and dads, and husbands, and wives, and college students, and graduates, and servicemen and women, and folks holding down jobs and grinding out a living every day.
Guess they’re doing OK in the real world, huh?
I’m just happy that I’m here to see it. But happier for them that they get to live it.