I got my ass kicked by a 16 year old girl the other week. If you know me at all, you’d guess I kinda had it coming, and you’d be right. I tend to practice “tough love” with the youth in that I don’t mind being sarcastic or pushing them around as a joke. One week at the beginning of youth group, another advisor went running up to a kid she hadn’t seen in a while and gave her a big hug. I turned to the kid next to me and asked her, “does it make you sad that I don’t do that for you?” she said, “no, if you did that it would be weird.” And the other kids all laughed in agreement. (sidenote: I do hug people, I just don’t do it when I know they’ll make a big deal out of it. right. So I’m not touchy feely, but you already knew that.)
Anyway, we were playing kickball, and as usual, was trying to do something to mess with people. And I accidentally ran into this girl when she was trying to get on base. When I walked over to apologize, because I did feel really bad about that, she jumped on me, sat on my stomach and pretty much had me pinned for a good 5 minutes. I was laughing at first, and then in my mind was like “crap. I can’t get out.” She was surprisingly strong and heavy for being a skinny teenager. But I kept laughing because I didn’t want it let on that I was annoyed that I was stuck. Which I was. The thing is, the kickball game just continued on around us. The kids are pretty used to my antics. She let me up after a little bit and I made a resolution to start working out again (which I have not followed through on).
Last fall, I wrote about getting into a water fight with another kid at youth group. I didn’t add to the story that a few days later on Sunday morning he nailed me in the back with a water balloon after our morning youth group meeting. I was plotting my revenge, but I saw another kid leaning out the window about to take aim with another balloon. There were little old church ladies walking around me, I had to take the boys aside and end it because no little church lady needs to be hit with a water balloon. I was pretty mad. But I realized I wasn’t mad that I got hit with a water balloon. I was mad that I could not exact my revenge and then tell the boys that the fight was over. Yes, I am mature.
I feel like I’ve lost a step or two this year in the youth ministry game. I guess that is to be expected - I keep getting older and they stay the same age (what movie is that line from? anyone?). I’ve been at this for 4 years, of which I am proud to have been a consistent presence for them. And this is the first year that I’ve volunteered while I’ve had a full-time job, which is kinda rough. Lots of Thursday evenings I wanted to just go home and watch parks & recreation instead of go to youth group. And as this year’s crop of seniors agonized over where they would go to college, I wanted to yell, “Omygod, just pick one!” So, yeah, that was a new experience for me.
I’ve decided to take a step back from volunteering this coming year. And I’m kind of excited about the break. Of course, the first Thursday of the summer program, I ended up at youth group somehow. Reflex, I guess. I don’t know, while I do think I need the break, I do know that hanging out with these guys, well, makes me more fun somehow. I mean, they’ve provided plenty of fodder for the blog (usually at my expense, but I welcome it) – what the hell am I going to write about now? Books? Philosophizing? What i ate for lunch? Online dating? All good options, but they don’t really get me going story-telling-wise, like good old-fashioned human interaction does. Blog aside (I mean, I barely ever write on this thing anyway), it does my soul good to be around these kids and support them through adolescence. I mean, if you survive those years, you pretty much can survive anything right?