I was out watering the yard a while back when a blonde headed boy rolled up on his blue mountain bike and asked if we needed our yard mowed.
Our yard had just been covered with a brand new batch of fescue sod.
I told the boy it was not ready to cut just yet but he could check back in a few weeks.
He reminded me of myself at his age, trying to find every odd job I could.
Summer should be a time of wonder.
I remember fondly my childhood summers — endless hours of play after completing my chores around the house. Of course, as I got older, I took on odd jobs like mowing neighbors’ yards to earn a little money.
In my neighborhood, we had a great group of children. We all would gather to play and race our bikes down suicide hill.
I’ve had two bikes in my life; my first bike was small and green and well suited me. When I got big enough to earn my own money, I did odd jobs to earn enough money to buy a 3-speed red English racer. Buying that bike meant a lot to me.
On one of our trips down suicide hill, the new racer decided it wanted to go one-way and me another. The accident sent me flying through the handlebars and sliding down the pavement for 20 feet or more. That still hurts just thinking about it. I had sores all over me from that adventure.
My friends and I would get in our share of disagreements with each other. Those would lead usually to some hurt feelings and some rolling around on the ground till someone would say “Uncle.” We always seemed to come through it. There really were no children who caused trouble in my age bracket. A few older ones sometimes got into mischief, but we always managed to keep out of trouble.
Do not get me wrong there were bullies. We were just blessed not to have them on our street, at least for very long. I remember when I was about seven there were two brothers who took great pleasure in picking fights with me. At least, it seemed that way at the time.
A boy my age named Chris Sands moved in. His parents had just divorced, and at that time it was not as usual as it is now. I’ll never forget one meeting with those brothers that had me at the bottom of a wrestling match that I just could not win. Chris was the new guy in the neighborhood, and saw that I was being unfairly targeted for this fight and stepped in to pull the other boys off me. From that moment on, he was my friend — that is until he later moved away, and I lost track of him.
While time has erased many of the memories of the time we spent together hanging out as kids, that one action by the new boy on the block sticks in my mind. He saw something that was not right, and he did something about it. Not knowing the social lay of the land and the dynamics of the neighborhood hierarchy, he stuck his neck out for me. That is bravery.
Now I’m not advocating fighting as a way to resolve issues for children or adults. I was taught that it takes much more courage to walk away than to actually fight. However, when they jump on you, there are just a few hurdles you have to get over before you can walk away.
It is hard to walk away when you are at the bottom of the pile.
I learned a valuable lesson from Chris that day.
Folks often do not like to stick their neck out to help other people, but when someone does, it makes our community a better place.