#83 – Mentoring for Dummies

It looks like I’ll be mentoring a third grade student after all, despite my eyebrow-raising questions at Monday’s orientation session. 

Not surprisingly, those who know me best seem taken aback at this news. Examples of the uncharitable
comments I’ve already received include: “I thought you hate kids”; “There’re parents desperate enough to let you mentor their child?”; and “Didn’t the school do a background check?” And those were only my wife’s remarks. I won’t dare repeat my sister-in-law’s statements on the subject. (Suffice it to say, her ten minute rant contained nine minutes worth of profanities.) 

It’s not as if mentoring a young boy tops my wish list. Rather, a client’s wife works at the local elementary school where there’s a shortage of adult males available to participate in the in-school mentoring program.
Since I’m all for giving back to my community (and cozying up to my better clients), I passed along the good word that the school could count me in. 

I won’t deny the thought of interacting with a seven or eight-year-old boy fills me with trepidation. As I’m well aware, my past dealings with children have usually ended with an adult yelling at me. This time around, I’d much prefer to avoid any outraged parent, teacher or sheriff’s officer calling for my head.  

Although I’m somewhat comforted that the mentoring program takes place on school grounds – and for just one thirty-minute session per week – I’m not exactly oozing with confidence at my prospects. That’s probably why my hand shot up early and often at the program orientation session, once the administrator asked the participants if they had any questions. Oddly, no one but me raised any inquiries; and I doubt anyone else even thought of my apprehensions, which included: 

·             What should I do when I accidentally curse in
front of the child?

·             If the kid asks me where babies come from,
should I say I don’t know or make something up?

·              Hypothetically speaking, if a mentee asks questions
about the mentor’s prior drug use, run-ins with the police or sexual history,
is fabrication the preferred response, or is it better for the mentor to reply:
“That’s none of your business?” 

The concerned looks my queries elicited from the program administrator and others led me to believe my mentoring application might be “re-evaluated.” For that reason, I was astonished when the administrator called me this afternoon and gave me the name of the third-grade boy I’ll be visiting. I admittedly felt less amazed once she explained how the boy’s single mother had said she “really, really wants a male influence for her son, and short of a child molester or convicted felon, any man will do.”

internetclipart.com

I’ll probably get the same suspicious look from the kid I mentor.


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