Four Guys Had Lunch Today

Four Guys Had Lunch Today

I had lunch today with three 18 year old graduating high school seniors. It has been a  long time in coming – 4 years to be exact.

A little background:

I met them when they were in 8th grade. I’d been contracted by a local Middle School to run groups and work with some students one day a week. Somehow over time, these three managed to work in a routine with me where they would get their lunch, come to my office and meet with me.

We’d talk about whatever we talked about, mostly listening to them bitch and moan about school, laugh about friends and every now and again, let me bring up some point about life that might have lasting value.

The point wasn’t what we talked about. It was that we were talking at all.

Most boys their age do not have any relationship like this with an adult outside of their home, not in any meaningful way at least. Yet here they were in a very innocent yet consistent way, connecting with me and allowing me into their world.

When the year ended and we had our last lunch, I told them to remember this day… that what we had here was special.

Then I proposed to bring them together again four years from now when they were graduating High School. I told them though it sounded far off, it would be “just a blink of an eye”. They agreed to have lunch four years later.

That was June 5, 2006. Today is June 5, 2010

We had lunch today.

Two of them I had seen a few times over the years, bumping into them at some spot around their town. One of them I hadn’t seen since that day.

They were all no longer middle school boys. They were young men – and all bigger, stronger and faster than me… and all far more experienced with girls, sex, partying, and other joys and complications of teen life than I ever was at their age.

They were all adulterated by these  experiences and challenges as well, each to varying degrees.

What was more intriguing to me about seeing them, was what wasn’t spoken about.

As I sat there so many things came into my mind that I could tell them and offer them. I didn’t though. They weren’t asking for it, no matter how much they could benefit from it. There was a reason none of them reached out to me over the years for personal help like so many others do.

They were each on their own path to manhood, and theirs did not include the idea of having adult men along with them to guide them and help show them the way.

So I enjoyed catching up with them, hearing where they were headed – one to the military, one to play college sports, one to work and attend college locally – and I enjoyed listening to the banter between them in the language they have all learned through their years growing up as guys in this community.

When it was time to leave, I had a moment with each of them. I needed to say something. There is only so much staying silent I can do – especially with three young souls as raw and loaded with potential as these guys.

I will keep my comments to them between us, with one exception. To this one what I told him, he agreed with my assessment without hesitation.

On the way home I thought further about it and decided to reach out to him with a simple email, inviting to make a commitment to have lunch with me once a month and if so, I would make the commitment in return. It is 50/50 that he’ll take me up on it, but 100% certain on my end that if he does, it will open up a whole element of life to him that he just hasn’t gotten to you yet and may not for many years.

Why did I make this offer?

Because it is who I am and this is what I do – and I make no apologies for it anymore.

For the sake of the countless boys out there like these young men, I wish there were countless other adults out there like me, having lunch with boys on the cusp of manhood, offering them their knowledge, their insights, their wisdom, but most importantly, their time… and what a time it was.

Jeff Leiken

June 5, 2010

® Likone Corp 2010

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