Thursday, March 13, 2008

17 cool kids

So I wrote the "16 under 16" piece for Style this year honoring 17 kids ((15 + twins) that have made an impact on the community. Tonight was the event and it was even more inspiring than most events with kids that are intended to be inspiring. Dr. Bill Bosher was the speaker. As a lifetime on and off resident of Henrico County I have heard this man's name and seen his big smiley white mustached, bow-tied head shot at least one million times since kinder garden. He SORT OF looks like a mix of Colonel Sanders and Santa but he was a lot funnier and friendlier and more laid back than I expected a man with that many credentials following his name to be. He said he'd known his wife since he was in seventh grade and she in sixth. He thought she was the prettiest girl in the school and she thought "this boy needs help!" = they were a perfect match.

And then came the kids. They were all so ADORABLE (not to be condescending!) and kind hearted and enormously smart and more accomplished than a lot of us much further along in our double digits. I'd had the pleasure of interviewing each of these seventeen in February and had already fallen in love with every one of them. It was neat to see them with their families, dressed up, in front of a podium, accepting their honors graciously, shyly, with pizazz, humility and just a tiny tad of tomfoolery. Their parents were teary, beaming, immensely proud and grateful to have their kids recognized and honored in this way (aren't moms and dads the wind beneath all those little wings?). I mean, we were at the Virignia Historical Soceity. CBS 6 Evening News was there. The publisher and a local news anchor (I'm sorry, never caught his name, can't remember who, but Mr. Personality) read the bios and gave the awards. It was cool to hear my words read from a stage. Maybe I'll become a speech writer. Then again, I probably won't.

And of course, during the program, I had to reflect on my own childhood and early teen years. The coulda woulda shoulda didn't oh wells what the hells. The i'm glad I did that-but not that and the if onlys and thank gods and might have beens. The fights with my mom and my defiance and sneaking out and experimentations with substances not legal for my age group and the bleached blonde hair and the occasional bad case of the F-its. And then I think about my three year old and where he'll be in those tender painful raw middle high school years fraught with potential and danger and possibility. What stages will he walk across or trip on or soar above? Will we applaud as he stands and catch him if he falls? Yes of course we will. But please God, don't let him be like me!

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