“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not letwhat I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale
My project over the past year, but even more so this semester has been to spend at least twohours a week hanging out with three kids in my neighborhood, just trying to be a positive olderbrother influence in their lives. Anthony and Khalil are brothers, 8 and 6 years old. They bothlive with their grandma, who’s a saint. Seriously, she’s the sweetest lady alive. Braydon is 7years old, and he lives right down the street with his single mother, who is also amazing.Anthony and Khalil never knew their dad, and Braydon’s dad left when he was about 3 yearsold, so there’s a void where there should be a guy role model for them to look up to.
Anthony is the leader of the three; he’s the oldest by a year and they’re at that age where being ayear older means everything. He gets to choose what they do when it’s just the three of them, butthe other two also blame him when they’re bored. He hates not being able to pick teams when weplay soccer, but will intentionally lose against his little brother Khalil to make him feel better.He’s got lots of heart, and I’d compare him to his favorite ninja turtle, Leonardo. Khalil is theyoungster of the group, the content tag-along, and a lot of times you can hear him yelling, “Waitup, guys,” to the other two. He’s the artsy one and the most compassionate 6 year old I’ve evermet. He’s the initiator of group hugs and a constant source of smiles.
Braydon is the glue thatholds it all together. He’s a peace maker, and probably has a career in International Relationsbecause he’s so good at defusing conflict. When the two brothers are fighting, he steps in andtalks them out of it. He’s selfless, and often asks me, “What would you like to do?” They’re theperfect squad, and they spend every minute they’re not at school, sleeping, or doinghomework,together.
We’ve done all sorts of cool stuff together, like we went to Wakulla Springs one day, where weall tried to see who could find the most coins underwater in 5 minutes. We went to Skyzone, andAnthony, Khalil, and Braydon taught me how to do a backflip, which I’d always been too scaredto do! We all put on closed-toed shoes, and built a little bike ramp for them to jump their bikeson in Braydon’s front yard, and per their request we’ve started building a tree house in mybackyard. Soccer is something we all love, and there’s not a time that we hang out that we don’tplay it. I’ve been teaching Khalil how to play guitar, because he loves how the guitar sounded ina Julian Lage song that was playing on our way back from Wakulla Springs. And I’m teachingall three of them how to skateboard, even though I’m not quite Tony Hawk. When I’m liftingweights in my garage, they like to drop by and workout alongside me enthusiastically with the2lb and 5lb weights, periodically looking in the full length mirror, seeing if their arms havegotten any bigger.
Hanging out with those three has been so fulfilling, knowing that they have a guy that’s there forthem. Being able to replicate what a guy named Jeremiah did for me and my brother when I wastheir age is really rad! My major was undecided when I started this semester, but spending timewith Anthony, Khalil, and Braydon, at least in part, has convinced me that I definitely want to
work with children. Paired with my other service project, I decided that I want to be a behavioraltherapist for mentally challenged kids!
I hope I’ve affected them positively! I’m somebody they’re comfortable coming to with theirproblems, and I hope I can help them with the stuff that a mom can’t really help them with,especially as they get older. I hope I’ve been & will be somebody worth looking up to, since theydon’t have a guy at home that they can mold themselves after. I’ve done my best to be an olderbrother to them, and I hope they’ve enjoyed it as much as I have!