Sunday, September 22, 2013

Connecting Kids to Inspiration

Who knew that there was such a job as a “Colorist”?? I guess it makes sense. Comic books are better with color and someone has to do that job. I just had never really thought about it.

I set up an “event” for our Eagle Scholars because I know several of them are interested in animation. I figured if it had to do with comic books, maybe it would be something in a similar vein that they might like. After all, my goal is not to expose them just to the things they want to be, but to the things that could inspire them…the things that might spark an interest they didn’t know they had. Plus, this “Colorist” was going to be at UTA…which provided us an opportunity to be on a college campus (always a bonus!).

Only three had signed up. I got word the day of that Dereon wasn’t going to go. I was somewhat frustrated because this same kid seems to sign up and not show up quite a bit. When I called, his mom explained to me that she works 2-7 and couldn’t take him back to the school at 5:30. She explained that he has asthma and she didn’t want him walking all that way.  That argument stopped me. I know where he lives (which is quite a little distance from the school). Besides the concern of people picking on him and some random boys jumping him, walking that far would concern me with his asthma, too. It’s been rainy and humid lately. Not that any weather is good weather for people with extreme asthma, but it wasn’t a good combination.

“He can stay with me after school,” I tried. No, she wanted him to go home first. “I’ll take him home after the event,” I pleaded. She’d be home from work by then and could pick him up so that wasn’t the issue. After pleading and bargaining, she said she’d talk to his aunt. If the weather wasn’t bad (because she has two little ones), his aunt could take him.

I hung up the phone slightly frustrated--not really at her; not at him. Just frustrated…because everything she said makes sense and makes her a good parent, not a bad parent. I was originally irritated that he had signed up and now wasn’t going, like he has done in the past. I guess I figured maybe that was him deciding he didn’t want to go at the last minute or her just not telling him or something. Actually, I’m glad she did sign him up so I had the opportunity to call and talk to her about it. The reality wasn’t any of my assumptions, but poverty and resources. She’s a single parent. She has to work. She has to work hours that don’t allow her to see her kids or make sure they get places. She doesn’t let him go because she knows certain things trigger his asthma and she doesn’t want him sick. Makes sense to me.

She called back to tell me her mom could take him. Yay!! I don’t know if her mom doesn’t work or works different hours. Sometimes, though, I’m kinda glad people don’t work. (that’s a whole different post that I’ll need to explain later). I really wanted him to go because of what I had discovered when going over to their home for one of my regular meet-and-get-to-know-the-family meetings that I’m doing with every Eagle Scholar. As I talked to them during that meeting, I learned that Dereon has a Nintendo DS. It has some kind of animation program on it. He has created a six-episode animation series…which sounds fairly unimpressive until you see the program and see that it is the animation that requires one slight movement per slide and realize that there are 170 slides per episode. It’s taken him months to create the series.

Dereon's grandmother brought him back to the school at 5:30, as planned. I was the one running behind. After a stressed, rush hour driving experience, we made it right on time. (thank goodness!) The speaker (Jeff Balke) was really good. He was laid-back and handed out tidbits of information like, “Follow you passion. This has been a passion of mine since I was in 6th grade. I loved coloring.” Then talking about work, explained, “When I get an assignment to do a comic book, sometimes I go nights without sleep because I have a deadline and I have to get it done. But I love it so much it doesn’t matter.” He gave each participant one of his 100th comic books to take home with us (a big milestone in the Colorist arena).

Only two kids ended up going with me. As we were leaving the event, we stopped at one of Jeff Balke’s large banners of a Ninja Turtle he had colored. Dereon got up real close and studied it for a bit. As we walked off, he mumbled, “Now I’m really inspired.”

*That’s* why I take kids. That’s why it doesn’t matter that it was just two kids who showed up. Who knows what he might do with that new knowledge that someone can be a Colorist. That’s why I have to figure out ways to work *with* the parents and work through things like work schedules. Dereon deserves to be inspired and exposed to things he’s never discovered before. We deserve for him to be inspired. We might miss out on greatness if he isn’t!

That makes me inspired!
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