So yesterday was kind of a surprise.
I've been enlisted to help with a youth group.
Some backstory may be needed at this point to clue you in.
When I was the tender age of eighteen, I met a boy. And I liked him. And it turns out that he liked me. And so we dated. His mother worked in a church. So one day we had to stop by there because he had to drop something off to her. No big deal, right?
Oh World, I had no idea what was about to hit me upside the head. Somehow, dropping a piece of paper off to his mother turned into a three hour session with *gasp* teenagers.
That's right. The "T" word. Those rotten kids that have no sense of decency. Those kids who play their music too loudly, and wear their pants too low (I mean, really, we don't want to see your underwear), and dress in itty-bitty shirts and blow their money on things that are completely unnecessary.
And the attitude! My God, don't get me started on the 'tude these kids had to offer up.
So there I was, surrounded by 20-something hormonally overloaded punks.
I. Was. Scared.
So I just sat there, in the corner, hoping like hell that if I didn't make eye contact with them that they wouldn't notice me.
Guess what World? THEY NOTICED ME. But, it was for the better. I didn't know that it was for the better at the time (I was too busy shitting myself), but it was definately for the better.
And so I came back, after a good bit of those 20-something teenagers made me promise to. Because hey, I don't break my promises.
And so I went back. And then I went back again. And again. And this continued for four years. My kids grew and got older. They didn't necesssarily get wiser, but they definately got older. And they brought their friends to the group. And their friends brought their friends. And so on and so forth it went.
We accomplished a lot within those four years. Many of the kids needed emotional help - we were there for them. Many of them needed counseling - we hooked them up. Many of them were just looking for a place to fit in - and so we provided that.
But, the untold story of many youth groups is what changes happen to the adults. I can't speak for anyone else, but I am a different person now than I was before I entered into that group of hormonally-overloaded teens. Somehow, they brought me to religion. Most people aren't aware that I'm religious - I majored in evolution, I support gay marraige, I even *gasp* have a tattoo!
Yes, I know, this is where all you readers recoil in shock and dismay - "oh, she's one of *those* people." Yes World, I am one of "those" people - deal with it. I have my beliefs, you have yours.
They did more than bring me back to the Catholic faith (I am an admittably bad Catholic, but I am Catholic nonetheless), they helped me find myself. Through those kids, I was able to figure out who I was.
See, now, this is the part of the story where it all goes sour. Our CYM (Catholic Youth Minister...the person in charge of anything youth related) had resigned. And so we hired a new CYM. And all was good for a little while - until we noticed that she wasn't really doing very much with the kids. Suddenly, our classes had changed from thought-provoking debates and discussions about the issues that teenagers face in today's society to religious videos and games and snack-time.
That wasn't the only blow. Most of the original kids that had
Just for clarification's sake, I'll put it to you another way - they were scared that some minor was going to get preggers from someone who wasn't a minor. Resulting in a probable lawsuit. I'm ok with their decision - I even completely understand it. It's just too much of a risk.
However, I do have some problems with it. Is a 21 year old (the age where they would be allowed back into the youth group, as an "adult leader") really all that much more mature than an 18 year old? Furthermore, where were these kids supposed to go? There was no young adult ministry. There was nothing for them. When I questioned the Diocese, the response I had gotten was "Oh, well, we're thinking of a few things that might work out in December." December! That was more than six months away at the time.
Naturally, this angered many of our kids. They didn't understand that it didn't matter that we had never had such a problem in our group - that it was just too much of a liability. That in combination with the changeover of CYMs...well....
We went from having 40-something kids to 8 in two weeks' time.
I bitterly left the group and the church, convinced that I would never return. I kind of entered a no-man's land of 'am I Catholic or am I not?'
I decided that I was Catholic - just a really, REALLY bad one. I believe in the spirit of the teachings. Anyways, more on my belief system later - I'm getting a bit off-topic.
So imagine my surprise when one of my fellow embittered cohorts contacted me for dinner about a month ago. We used to go out all the time back when we were in the group together, but life had kind of taken over, and we hadn't seen each other in some time. It had been nice to see her again.
She brought up a service project that our original CYM was going to start. I vaguely made sounds of approval, and I may have said that I would be interested in being involved.
Well, she called me yesterday. They were going to have an organizational meeting concerning this new service group. I wanted in, so I went, unsure as to what my reception would be - I had, after all, left on bitter terms. I dragged Pookie along with me for backup...I figured that if they tried to kill me, I could just throw him at them and run like hell.
I was pleasantly surprised. We have many different service projects planned for the upcoming months (we only plan on meeting with the kids once or twice a month) - the first one that's scheduled is to clean up an elderly parishoner's yard (if you knew her, you'd realize that it requires many many helpers to clean her yard up - it's always in shambles).
I plan on creating a blog for the kids to write in about their experiences. When I brought the idea up to the other people working on this, they were enthused - but clueless. Most of them didn't even know what a blog is. Oy.... I'm not sure how I'm going to create this - their posts would need to be examined before they were allowed to be made public. Is this possible? One thing's for certain - I'll be doing a lot of researching this weekend.