All your children are belong to me.

A couple of years ago I applied for a Big Brother Big Sister program in my local area. They promptly ran out of funding before I finished the interview process, and that was that.

Last week they gave me a call – hello Inga, we have your records on file as well as actual money, would you still consider volunteering?

Well, sure.

I’m still not 100% sure what the deal is with BBBS, but from what I understand they match ‘vulnerable’ young people with a mentor who supposedly shares random wisdom, hangs out with them, and generally makes them feel good about themselves without committing inappropriate acts of sexual misconduct.

I had my first ‘interview’ yesterday, which was basically questions like “Why does a 28 year old woman want to hang out with young children you SICK FREAK?!” No, it wasn’t really like that. There was “what was your favourite thing about high school?” and “describe a time when you’ve been tested by a young person?”. Now I have to obtain a police check, a working with children check, and undergo psychological profiling. Then they come to your house, chat to you, and make sure you don’t have a meth lab in the laundry or a rape dungeon in the spare room. Then there’s an online study course, face-to-face training, and if all goes well they’ll find one lucky ‘vulnerable’ young person I can foist myself onto.

I’ve stated my minion preference as 12 and above. I don’t have anything against small children (when they’re not crapping everywhere), but I remember what being a teenager was like, and it was ghastly. And that was with great friends, basic social intellect and ace parents. I’d hate to imagine what teenage-hood would be like lacking even one of those factors. Hopefully, I can lend an oar to some poor chick navigating the shit creek that is female pubescence. At the very least, I can give them tequila.

It’s all mildly daunting, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not sure a teenage girl in 2011 would have anything to learn from my haphazard, half-arsed drunken lifestyle, and I seriously doubt my ability to convey any pertinent life advice. But I sure as hell can slap a kid on the back and say “girl, you think life is arse now? Wait until you have to keep a roof over your head, file tax returns and punch people who ask why you haven’t ‘settled down’ yet. Pimples and cyber bulling ain’t got nothing on real life.”

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36 thoughts on “All your children are belong to me.

    • That was a bit glib, sorry – what I meant to say was that the BBBS sounds like an awesome thing to do and goodonya for doing it. I hope the funding holds out this time.

    • Tequila for you, child. Tell me your woes, I’m SO familiar with child rearing and careers that involve public personalities *coughchoke*

  1. What a great thing to do. A friend of mine and her boyfriend do the same sort of thing but with troubled older teenage boys!! And they come and stay for weekends as well. Maybe it’s something that you can do and enjoy before you have your own kids. Because once you have your own you can’t stand anyone elses. Well that’s what I found. World needs more people like you Big Sister Inga.

    • Cheers for the buck-up 🙂 Teenage boys would be TOUGH…I didn’t understand them when I was a teenager, and I sure as hell don’t understand them now.

      I dunno about this ‘can’t stand other people’s kids’, you seem pretty fond of your nieces and nephews there 😉

      • Oh well they don’t count and they are seriously great kids. A better example is my friend who is a pre school teacher. Before she had kids she used to walk around the playground holding little kids hands and she’d let little girls brush her hair, yadda yadda but as soon as she had her own two kids there was this amazing transformation to care factor zero.

      • That’s gotta be disappointing for everyone involved!

        Maybe it’s because when you have your own kids you suddenly realise you didn’t actually love all those other children, you love THESE ones. Like when you’ve been happily eating Korean brand chocolate for years, then someone gives you Green & Blacks and holy hell you can never eat cheap chocolate again.

  2. Well, good luck.

    I taught secondary school and there are ups and downs. Oh, I had what the other teachers referred to as FFOA (this was my year in the US–I declared my own “Peace Corps” operation by returning to MY alma mater, which was deemed by a national newspaper as the worst in the nation for violence, drugs, illiteracy, etc.): Future Felons of America.

    These kids in fact WOULD be felons for their crimes, had they not been under the age of 17.

    They were bomb-builders who in fact had injured people (or killed or whatever). You get the picture.

    The kids were easier to deal with than administration or their COMPLETE SHITE parents. So, I say this because: I think you found the right answer.

    F the admin. F the parents. Be the influence you want to be/ see. Excellent. Wish I’d figured that out. Would’ve saved a lot of bother.

    • Secondary school teaching would be a massive challenge at a school like that, well done you for trying. That’s takes much more dedication than being handed a single child to play with for an hour a week. I’d imagine that even parents of perfect children have the potential to be a pain in the arse to deal with.

      Thanks for the support 🙂

      • Wanted to add, the year I taught in France was a completely different experience. Firstly, they see education as a good thing and secondly, it was not an impoverished area, more middle income. Makes a HUGE difference and I can say that as I grew up there–poor.

  3. I am sure that some young person would gain a lot from your down-to-earth wisdom, blunt way of saying what you feel…..just learning to deal with life.
    Life is a big suckfest, and we must still learn to enjoy the enjoyable and celebrate the celebratable!

    Hmm. Spellcheck didn’t like suckfest or celebratable. Too bad. I do.

    I think it’s great you’re starting through this process!
    (watch out for that Snowy dude. I think he just wants the whiskey)

    • Cheers Lauri! 🙂 I also like celebratable suckfest.

      Haha, I’m a lot more blunt in blogland than I am in real life! And I doubt any poor kid would have much to learn from me, but I suppose the point is just to be there.

  4. What’s amusing is –

    … they make you go through all this crap just to make sure you’re not going to warp some poor kids mind during the couple of hours a week you’ll spend with them (and make you get rid of the sex dungeon, the bastards!)
    … if you try to be a foster parent it’s even worse
    … but ANYONE can have a kid – no background check or anything.

    • Nooo, not the sex dungeon!!

      It’s completely bizarre, isn’t it? But I guess it’s not like you can go around sterilizing people (unless yourself and GOF want to start some kind of stealth movement), and imagine the backlash if adoption/foster agencies started handing out kids to whoever asked. There’s a line somewhere there, but it’s terribly fuzzy.

  5. You’d actually be great at this, because you’re so cool. There was a time (age 15) when I was living as a ward of the court. Someone set me up with this sort of Big Sister program, and before I knew what was happening, this nice lady showed up. Every month or so, she’d pick me up and we’d get lunch somewhere decent (a real treat), then go someplace cool, like museums or observatories, parks or the beach. It was a really nice diversion from the horror of my actual reality.
    I hope you didn’t tell them about your blog, though.

    • I possibly need to read more of your blog, I was completely unaware you’d been a ward of the court :-/ You’ve certainly come out on top, if I may say so.

      It’s good to hear it from your perspective; it’s so easy to look at a surly teenager and go “meh, what’s the point?”…if they still remember you years down the track, that’s pretty damn awesome.

      And no, there was no mention of the blog!

      • I don’t talk about it much, but while still on Vox, I posted a series that was visible only to a select few folks. Then I used that as a jumping-off point for a memoir. But it’s still too long for an article, and too short for a full book. Right now I’m just sitting on it.

      • Even if ‘sitting on it’ is all you ever do, it’s great you put it all down on paper. And one day you may find it helps somebody in a similar situation.

      • “And no, there was no mention of the blog!”

        Hmm, I sense some blackmail material here. You can pay me one widget to keep my mouth shut. 🙂

        Oh, and it looks like you had a birthday recently. I hope you had a good day and got yourself suitably blotto.

      • I’ll pay you one widget for your mouth, and one more if you can keep GOF’s shut too. 😉

        Birthday is still a couple of days off, but now you’ve put the idea in my head I shall certainly have a few drinkies to celebrate!

      • “and one more if you can keep GOF’s shut too.”
        Oh yeah, riiight. Not even I am capable of that feat.

        “Birthday is still a couple of days off,”
        I was never too good at that maths stuff. Adding and sutracticating, and all them things.

        “but now you’ve put the idea in my head I shall certainly have a few drinkies to celebrate!”
        Oh, come on! You really expect me to believe you hadn’t already thought of that? You should try reading this blog sometime.

  6. I am constantly saying that people should all be sterilized until the time that they can take tests and their lives can be observed to be responsible enough to have a child. Damn, they even usually (not often enough) have to fill out applications to adopt an animal….but kids?….nope, pop out as many as you want and don’t even bother to feed them!

    • I read some sort of online article once in a similar vein, about how everyone should be sterilized until such time as they want to have kids, thus eliminating ‘oops’ babies and ‘haha I’m pregnant now you HAVE to stay with me’ babies. I think they even went so far as suggesting an ear tattoo or somesuch for unsterilized people. It makes for an interesting discussion topic, but having said that I’m fairly sure I was an ‘oops’ baby myself so I should probably pipe down. 🙂

  7. Oh, and I suppose you’ll share the barrel of whiskey with them as well instead of me? Hrmmm? 😉

    Your cynical wisecracking is exactly why teenage girls will look up to you. I had a mentor of sorts, a friend of my older sister (by 9 years) drove us around Hampton Beach and bought me homemade cookies while going on about the evils of boyfriends and such…….I’d look at her and realize that being an adult was pretty damned cool, so I’d better do the right things so I could move out of my mom’s house asap! Kudos to you for giving someone the same gift.

    • I reckon you’ll be fighting Snowy for a share, actually 😉

      I hope you still see your ‘mentor’ occasionally. I have a second cousin who has about 10 years on me, and I adored her when I was a young tacker – I barely see her anymore, but when I do I still admire the kind of person she is.

  8. I admire anyone who can work with children, and especially anyone who is willing to work with children from difficult circumstances. I can babysit (the smaller the better) for short periods of time, but I simply don’t have the patience for older children, or anything long-term. One of the reasons why I have no urge to have children of my own. (And at 45-and-single, it’s probably a moot point anyway, lol!)

    • I hear ya! I have no desire for kidlets either, and may find I have even LESS desire after doing this. I don’t have much experience with kids at all, so it may turn out to be a complete fiasco. Watch this space I guess!

  9. Pingback: Vale Two Oh One One « Step Into The Light

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