He calls himself “a little autistic” or “not as other kids” or sometimes he makes comments about being heavily medicated. He is short and really heavy. He lies and exaggerates often. I don’t think he means it in an evil and deceiving way. I think this is how he tries to belong. It is very awkward to have him at the teen center. He rubs the other teens the wrong way often and many teens try to avoid him. That’s why he is such a gift to us. He throws off the idea that community is perfect and that we have it all figured out. He forces us to re-examine ourselves and look for ways to engage with him in ways that are helpful for him.

This young man came to the teen center today, early, because it’s spring break. He tells his stories. Today he said the military called him and wanted him to train some special forces. He was also going to become a NASCAR driver. He also had become a dragster driver and a sponsored skateboarder. I didn’t engage with that at all. It could possibly throw him off and contribute to him becoming frustrated. That becomes a waste of time. So instead, I give him, presence. I laugh with him, we shot some pool, we listen to his ipod and at a quarter to five he has to leave and he always says something to the affect of “man, I love it here, you’re the best, we’re like this” and he tries to cross his index and middle finger. There is power in presence.

When he left, a 14 year old girl came by and she’s a tricky one. She’s a hider. She doesn’t like to talk. She really wants to communicate but she doesn’t like to talk. Today she looked really sad. So we sat down by the computer and I asked her what the saddest song she knew was. She said, “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride. We listened to it and watched the video. It was really sad. I played one of my saddest songs “Who Says Grown Men Don’t Cry”, by Tim McGraw, then she picked another sad song, “Christmas Shoes” by NewSong, and then we sat for awhile together, sad. She sighed really loud. Then she smiled really big, jumped off her chair and said, “Well, I gotta go, see ya tomorrow”. She jumped and skipped out of the teen center. There is power in presence. 


~ by Rickard on March 24, 2008.

One Response to “Presence”

  1. Thank you for sharing your stories. They inspire and encourage me.

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