August 7, 2009

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Teenagers’ examples show there is hope in today’s world

Patti LambLast weekend, I encountered a lengthy line at the grocery store.

Because I didn’t have the kids in tow, I didn’t have to spend my time at the checkout shooing them away from the candy near the register.

I actually had time to glance at the magazines on display. I was saddened by many of the inappropriate headlines and images visible at eye level for all to see.

In front of me stood a young customer deeply involved in a conversation on her cell phone. She acted annoyed when she had to interrupt that conversation for the cashier to announce her total. As she turned to take her bag, I noticed that her T-shirt said “SPOILED” in glittery letters.

Later that evening, my 4-year-old son picked up on a phrase that is not welcome in our living room thanks to the TV. I thought I had left the television on the “family channel.” I double checked. That was the family channel.

“I don’t know how we’re going to raise God-centered kids in this world of disintegrating morals,” I said to my husband.

I explained that, in the short jaunt between the grocery store and home, I encountered multiple images and phrases that I didn’t want our kids seeing or understanding any time soon.

“Seriously, how are we going to do it?” I asked myself.

Then a couple of names came to mind: Paul and Megan.

Paul is a 16-year-old who teaches swim lessons in Plainfield. Over the course of six weeks, he transformed my son from water-shy to water-spry. (This was no small feat considering that my son’s water-related meltdowns were fierce.)

Because of Paul’s patience and kind spirit, my son feels more comfortable in the water. Between lessons, we would see Paul at church, where he offered encouragement. My son started referring to his teacher as “Uncle Paul,” and announced that he wants to grow up to be like him. I could wish for nothing better.

Megan is a 13-year-old baby sitter who nurtures as if it’s instinctual. She possesses a rare gift for summoning the best in people.

When she recently baby-sat for us, I overheard her remind the children that they needed to say grace before their meal.

When my son knows that Megan will be baby-sitting for him during the week, he will ask every night with a Christmas Eve level of anticipation, “Is tomorrow the day when Megan will come over?”

I commend Paul and Megan’s parents. I know it is their guidance, faith, discipline and love that have shaped these young people.

In today’s world of entitlement where “spoiled” and “princess” are monikers to be celebrated on T-shirts, I know at least two teenagers whose T-shirts might as well say “Good is the new black.” They show respect for God, themselves and others. They openly acknowledge and show gratitude for God’s blessings. They bring him glory from their corners of the world simply by choosing to be their best selves.

The world is not completely lost. While the media primarily showers us with the shallowness of human decency, we can’t assume the integrity of the world has been washed away. There are too many wonderful people performing constructive acts all around us.

To Paul and Megan, for their examples and the reassurance those examples bring, I am thankful. The thought of you two pleasantly turned the tide of my weekend.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: