Last night I had choir practice at church to prepare for our weekly Lenten programs. I drove home in the darkness, turned the corner onto my street, and saw the most beautiful sight. Our garage doors were open (picture this--our 'garage' is actually an old carriage house with the big double barn doors, so picture the double barn doors open, all lit up inside), and my high school OM team was there all painting sets. Precious, darling teen-agers with soccer/baseball/softball practice, homework to do, tests to study for, you name it, and they were out there in the dark painting their sets for the OM competition next week-end. Of their own accord, they gathered themselves while I, their coach, was off doing something else, and made some serious progress. Yes, this is the same team that four years ago needed constant monitoring to get ANYTHING done because they were so socially distracted. This is the same group of kids who once disagreed over parts to the point that pouting got in the way of a simple practice. These are the same kids who would frequently hide in closets when break time was over rather than return to practice, not because they didn't like OM but because they were kids fooling around. Now here they are, same kids, painting outside at 8:00 at night, talking like dear friends, and making great progress. And get this, they didn't paint each other's faces, hair, legs or other body parts. I'll tell ya, it brought tears to my eyes. What awesome kids, and what a great OM team they have been over the years.
I'm sure I was a bit more emotional and appreciative because I am also coaching an elementary school team this year, and we had our dress rehearsal earlier that day. NO WAY could I ever leave that crowd anywhere painting anything. Not because they are bad kids, not at all!, but because they are young jedis, and they are learning to use the force. Kids are born crazy creative, off the charts creative, awesome thinking outside the box, but somewhere along the way, it gets a bit squashed under spelling tests, A.R., and other rote school neccessities. So it takes a bit to dust off that part of them and get it shining again, but when they do, it is sheer MAGIC. Which is why I LOVE Odyssey of the Mind.
Our world no longer needs people in the workplace who can recite the presidents and their years in office (unless you are Sarah Palin's coach) and other basic facts. We have that at our fingertips now. What our world needs is people with creativity. People who can look at big problems in a creative way. People who are good problem-solvers. People who are good team-players. And what better life preparation than OM?
Our regional tournament is next week-end, March 10th. We have three teams from Edenton. Three groups of awesome young people who have elected, in their free time, to challenge themselves beyond the ordinary rigors of school. Three sets of parents who have supported this cause and patiently endured all the practices and line recitation at home. Parents who have brought snacks and encouraged the dress rehearsal kids even when they still didn't quite get the problem (because who ever really does? ha ha). Neighbors, ex-OM coaches,friends, and siblings who cheer them on. Because these kiddos are CHEER-WORTHY.
So do me a favor, when you meet OMers, give them big hugs from me. Congratulate them. Encourage them. And do yourself a favor, and HIRE THEM. They are our future leaders, our future inventors, and our future peacemakers. So let me add to the Beattitudes and say, "Blessed are the OMers, for they shall make the world a better place."
My Mission Statement
I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.