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To the secular saints who mentor kids

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POSTED June 2, 2009 1:34 a.m.
Evelyn Seay was a saint.
You would be too if you spent an entire year serving as the den mother for a Cub Scout Pack that had me as a member.
One would have to have incredible patience dealing with 8-year-old boys let alone a klutz like me.
Cub Scouts was much like my foray into Little League – a complete disaster. My mom who knew better simply made it a requirement if I joined something like Cub Scouts or Little League I had to stick it out for either a year or one season. Mom knew the truth. I redefined the term klutz.
Little League exposed my athletic skills for what they weren’t. Practices were cool. Kids at that age aren’t cruel nor are they saints – adults - who volunteer to coach them. The parents in the stands are another thing. You haven’t lived until you’ve been taunted as an 8-year-old by someone who is 40 or so because you “swing like a girl” or “fatso, a girl throws better than you do”, or that “I couldn’t catch anything if your life depended on it.” I was simply embarrassed, not traumatized. I knew what I was which was devoid of any normal athletic skills whatsoever. It’s too bad the adults who taunted me didn’t know what they were.
Cub Scouts was actually a much worse experience for me. No one ever taunted me. They were all encouraging whether it was my classmates who were in Cub Scouts with me or Mrs. Seay.
The list of things I had extreme difficulty doing ran the gamut from climbing trees to tying knots.
Mrs. Seay tried, boy did she ever. If patience is a virtue then she was the most virtuous den mother on the planet. There was one pack meeting that she had me stay after to try to tie a slip knot. An hour later, she patiently gave up without showing one iota of frustration.
As for me, it was proof positive that I was different.
Again, I wasn’t crushed.
My lack of athletic skills and lack of balance can be attributed partially to my eyesight.  I kept running into things after I learned to walk. A neighbor – who happened to be a teacher – suggested that my parents might want to take me to an eye doctor. She was right.
My difficulty in tying knots comes from being forced to be right handed when I was supposed to be left handed. My first grade teacher would swat me with a metal ruler when I picked up scissors and pencils with my left hand. Her point stuck – unfortunately.
Even today when I tie a knot or even do an aerobic move – after 23 years of workouts – I still have to think about what I’m doing. The world is interesting if you’re not right-handed especially if you’ve been hammered to try and be different.
It didn’t matter, though, to Mrs. Seay or my Little League coaches that I was a klutz or why I was a klutz. I was just a kid and they treated me as such.
They weren’t whipping together a military unit nor were they in the run for a World Series championship. It was all about kids.
Keep this in mind when you see the adults who take time away from their lives and their families to mentor kids. They’re not doing it to make outdoor experts or athletic machines. They’re doing it to help kids grow up.
Not everyone is going to become an Eagle Scout nor is everyone going to hit a home run. Heck, some of us are lucky if we even come close to connecting the bat with the ball.
Everything they do though helps a kid grow up and find the path that is right for them.
And to those who show extraordinary patience, bless them.
They are secular saints in the truest sense.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com






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