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“Every real friendship is a sort of…rebellion.” - C. S. Lewis
Those of us serving with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Carroll County are often at a loss for words to describe what is happening between the 25 children matched with twenty-five adults that meet one-on-one in school cafeterias and other far-flung locales. We’re hesitant to use “family” because the children really do not want to replace parents or grandparents with these quirky adults that seek them out week after week. We also wouldn’t speak of being “peers” because the adults have to be adults—and not children—in this relationship.
As per the quote above, however, we certainly think of ourselves as friends.
And, we must add, we are all about the rebellion part, too.
First, we meet with our kids to make friendships. And that is a powerful proposition. As adults know, the mere mention of a feistier friend splits our guts with a laugh. These friendships are especially hard to explain to someone who does not share the friendship; it is too hard to describe the conversations and the crimes that put these people on the map. We find the same experience in our Big Brothers and Big Sisters labor. The more mileage (or lunch fare) we put under our feet with a Little Brother or Sister, the more gaffes and laughs we get to share and file for the future. With these kids, every meeting puts down pavement.
Case in point, every time my Little Brother jumps in the car and is greeted with my “What should we do?” he spouts his usual “I don’t know” while I pretend to drive against my will to McDonald’s for chocolate milk shakes. When I complain that this craving for shakes seems to grab me only when he gets in my car, he flashes the smirk of a puppeteer. Honestly, he is convinced that he created this addiction. Our library of memories grows through silly routines and Lego labor and drawings of dragons, and it is nothing less than a friendship. It cannot be less than friendship to be valuable, of course, but it is not required to be more.
But there is still that rebellion part of our story. What Lewis explains in the fuller passage of the quote above is the hope and trouble of a friendship: it can be a school of virtue or a school of vice. As most parents have learned, not all friendships are good for our children. In fact, some friendships lead to open rebellion against a child’s best people and promises.
We, on the other hand, are interested in the rebellion within the best friendships. Since our kids in BBBS are usually saddled with a nagging voice of doubt that hinders their best work and behavior, a friendship with a child is a form of rebellion against all voices (real or imagined) that predispose a child to failure. If you were ever a kid looking up from the potential drowning pools of a childhood—gender inequity, racial discrimination, absentee parents, learning disabilities, to name a few—you understand the need for a rebellious friendship like the one we try to bring to our children. We are not fighting the system, per se. But in resisting the familiar downward pull on a struggling child, we know full well we are fighting gravity. Ours is an organized resistance, however, so we feel pretty good about our chances.
We invite you to consider a role with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Carroll County. A small commitment of time goes a long way for a child, and most schedules can be accommodated for a match with a child. We also ask the community to consider financially supporting this effort. A fundraising dinner is scheduled for March 27 at Cartmell Elementary. Please keep an eye out for details. Hope to hear from you soon at (502) 662-0888.
The Rev. Chris White, D.Min., is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Ky.