My nephew turns 12 on Aug. 2, and like many young men his age he plays too many video games and watches too many zombie movies. But I’m a curmudgeon who believes that previous generations were superior in all respects to the present one and that everyone, particularly the current generation, should stay off my lawn. I’m a cynic born of too much time in a profession where people lie to me on a frequent basis to skew the facts to their point of view or take umbrage when their press-release-spun version of a story is not presented as if it were the infallible word of God himself (or herself if one is so inclined). That cynicism and scepticism necessary in my trade carries over into my personal life, much to the annoyance of friends and family. It is common in this business.
Not so for my nephew. His world view is quite different than mine, for he takes every human being at face value, trusting them unconditionally until lied to or disrespected. Even then he is willing to easily forgive, never talking smack about them behind their back, holding a grudge or using past transgressions to hurt or gain an upper hand at some future point.
He’s courteous to his parents, his sister and his friends. He is a true gentleman to his first girlfriend whom he presented with a special floral arrangement for their first date.
He’s quick to share his popcorn or his bicycle. He honours his commitments when he makes them, particularly washing his uncle’s car, and he never fails to give 100 per cent to the commitment at hand.
He’s patient in his willingness to allow adults to fulfil their commitments to him, and understanding when those commitments cannot be filled by the date promised. He doesn’t stamp his feet or hold his breath as a two year old might.
And he doesn’t give up. Although a trip to the skate park resulted in the loss of half a tooth, he was back there as soon as possible to improve his skills, always ready to alert less seasoned tricksters of the danger that befell him.
Like so many people his age, his friends are not of one religion, one race or one economic standing. He’s as happy to play x-Box with his best friend as he is to watch over the younger brother of his sister’s friend in the backyard pool.
He is a product of the Ontario Public School system and – for the past few years – the product of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School System. In both he has been taught by some great teachers in a great school system, made some great friends, and carried on with his school career oblivious of the struggles the respective jurisdictions charged with educating him were then or now involved in.
Like most young people his age, he has no interest in the news – television, radio or print – or any need to peruse the letters to the editor or comments sections of local news media with its often vile anonymously-posted commentary.
And we are all fortunate for that. Because while he and so many other wonderful youth in this community have been lopping the heads off zombies via x-Box or unconditionally entertaining guests in their rec rooms and swimming pools, we adults have been engaged in arguing, fighting and passing the buck of blame on how to have another school system in place for September. Parents say the government lied to them and reneged on modulars. The government says they cannot get them in time. One school board says it is doing all it can and it has no room. Another board says not enough is being done. Parents start out not wanting their children in a school where crosses hang in the hallway but then are upset that the same school board won’t offer more of its space. And armchair critics on both sides anonymously spew venom and prejudices that could only come from ignorance, hatred and an utter lack of desire to cooperate or make the slightest concession to the other side. These comments and viewpoints come from those who profess to follow Christ, those who profess to be more enlightened than man’s primitive religion and those who fall somewhere in between.
My nephew turns 12 on Aug. 2 and it is my sincerest hope that we adults will someday grow up to be the kind of person he is.
Stephen Dafoe, editor