Unexpected Teachers

The thing I didn’t know about mentoring was how little mentoring you’d actually be doing. It’s more board games and Chuck E. Cheese than teaching moments or tearful hugs. When I met Demerren in 2012, it took us a few weeks to truly hit it off. We bonded over silly voices and a shared appreciation of Sour Patch kids.

But then after about a year, I realized I may actually love this kid, and I wanted to be a more meaningful presence in his life. So, I’d try to ask about his family or school, hoping he’d open up, but he would only shrug or give short answers.

I was afraid our relationship was shallow, so I constantly doubted myself. Is he not opening up because he’s hiding something or because he just doesn’t trust me? Or both? And then you wonder what’s even the point? Maybe I’m just not good at this?

But then one night he asked me, “What do you say to a girl you like?” It was simple, but just like that, I began to see the value in all those unfinished games of Memory or all those times I remembered his birthday or that he had a test that week.

Demerren has taught me that, in relationships, life-changing moments are a waste of your hope. Instead, I put value in the little things like the subtle look of pride on his face when he finally memorizes the Bible verse or his laugh when I intentionally mispronounce his favorite rapper’s name.

There’s a quote from a movie that goes “aim small, miss small.” And that’s what I do; I try to appreciate every moment with Demerren for what it is instead of forcing some bigger experience.

I have no idea if I’m changing his life for the better, but I know that we have fun, and that fun is joy. And when Demerren has joy, the world is a better place.

About Bryce Kittinger