I called a kid on his audacity the other day. (Not that he would even remotely know what that word means, but he experientially knows it now!!!) He has a t-shirt that he wears any chance he gets—even to worship nights and church services. The phrase emblazoned across it in large, bold letters is, “I like beer”
Now, I like beer, too, but I am not going to wear said shirt or broadcast my impeccable taste to a community in which the vast majority believes a Christian should never drink or endorse beer, or any kind of alcohol for that matter.
So, when he came after school the other day to meet with Geoff (who wasn’t here) I invited him to sit on the front porch to wait and I got him a glass of water to drink. When I handed him the water I apologized that it wasn’t beer. He jerked a double take and choked, “What? Beer?” I repeated that I was sorry I didn’t have any beer to give him as I knew how much he loved beer. Talk about someone squirming, but trying to maintain composure.
“Aunt, what do you mean?” Oh, now there’s an invitation to be ornery! I accepted the challenge--I just couldn’t resist!
“Yeah, I know you like beer because of your shirt you wear all the time."
“Yeah, the one you always wear when you’re not wearing your uniform. It says, “I like beer” on it.”
"Oh, I didn’t catch the meaning.”
“Yeah, I thought it was BEAR.” He is not an accomplished liar.
“Right, you knew what it meant. Just watch what you have in there (as I pointed to his heart).
"You’re a good kid.”
“You are, aren’t you?”
I love that kid. He’s had some struggles the past few years and has hit some hard times requiring discipline and repeating a grade level, but his heart is available, honest and moldable, and I love that. And I love that he keeps seeking guidance from Geoff.
However, that day he gave up waiting on the porch and decided to seek Geoff out at the office. Now, before you think it is because I made him uncomfortable, stop your thought train. Almost every secondary student that passed by our house on the way home from school was razzing him about sitting on Uncle Geoff’s porch—"surely you must be in trouble," they jeered!!!! The constant comments built to a level he wasn’t willing to withstand and he sought Geoff in a “safer” place.
Honestly, in the long run, wearing a shirt with a message that runs cross-grain to what you’ve been taught isn’t a HUGE deal, though it can be indicative of an appetite for rebellion. It is a small degree change off the intended path that over time can develop into a large, off-course trajectory. If I hadn’t said something I’d be wasting an opportunity to show the kid I care about him and his choices—small as some of them are.
When I googled images to include in this post, at first** I chose a simple shirt that looks almost exactly like the one the young man chooses to wear any chance he gets. Once I clicked on the image, do you know which site it linked me to?
Ever wonder exactly what we do down here on the Equator at New Hope Uganda? We simply parent. And all you parents know that is not a simple task. So, sometimes, apparently, there’s been a perceived need to market said shirt to parents.
**I chose the above image because it is the exact shirt he wears!