By: Mark Grush
I am a middle child. I am not sure if that is a good thing or bad thing (actually, growing up it often depended on the day).
In my case I was the second of three boys, meaning I am both a younger brother and an older brother. In the language of Big Brothers Big Sisters, this makes me both a “Big,” and a “Little.”
Sometimes that meant I got to pick up some wisdom (or teasing) from my older sibling, and in other cases pass along some nuggets (or “noogies”).
Fast forward a few years. I am still a middle child, but now I am more – a husband, father and a “Big.”
My “Little” and I have been together for eight years. We started in elementary school and met once a week at school for an hour; getting to know each other, catching up on schoolwork, and having fun.
Once middle school arrived we transitioned into the Community Based Program, where we get together twice a month outside of school.
Here’s the funny part. I don’t like people. Well, not many of them anyway. I am an introvert by nature, and have realized that I don’t like mingling in large groups of people I don’t know, and even have times when I struggle to make conversation with people one-on-one (especially if they are an introvert as well).
I know the feeling of being alone, even when I am in a room full of people. Sometimes I prefer to have some down time to feel like I can recharge. I wonder though, about people that don’t have a choice in the matter, particularly young people.
What about the ones who are living with just one parent or a grandparent? What about the ones who are struggling in school, or feel like they don’t fit in? What about the ones who just want someone to talk to, act interested in how they feel, or think that what they have to say is important?
For these kids, one “Big” can make all the difference in the person they will become. In turn, they can grow up and be in a position to help themselves and even their own “Littles” (family and youth they impact).
So being a “Big” can be fun and scary, rewarding and frustrating. In my case, this was made easier by knowing my Little Brother through the school system (plus he is such a great guy)!
We do things we both like to do, because that is part of the match-making process, where the BBBS staff discovers the “middle” ground that is common to both of us. It was doing things for the first time like throwing a baseball, hiking and going to the movies (on his end) and trying homemade tamales, running a 5K and listening to King Lil G (on my end).
It’s also doing some of the same things like going to the gym, Yogurt World and the library.
At times it can be deep conversations about everything from growing up to problems encountered. You simply go where the relationship leads using the gifts you have. I can attest that the changes in both of you are profound and lasting.
Not sure you are ready to jump into the Community Program? That’s OK – there is still “middle” ground there as well. You can start in the school-based system like I did and ease your way into things.
You can also contribute to BBBS through our Bowl for Kids’ Sake event on March 3. Trust me, bowling itself is a blast, and all of the proceeds from this event stay in Henderson County to sustain and grow our program.
Either way, please contact the office if you are interested in more information; contact us via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-693-8153. BBBS of HC is a funded community partner with United Way of Henderson County.