I sat across the table from 'lil Corey'. He was wearing a red beanie with a DC logo just left of center and his shirt bore the logo of Independent Truck Company. He ordered the bean and cheese burrito that turned out to be more cheese than bean or burrito. He scraped the excess cheese off the top as he spoke about his goal of becoming a professional skate boarder. I asked who his idol was using my limited knowledge of the skateboarding world. The obvious question, 'do you want to be the next Tony Hawk' was answered quickly in the negative. Next I asked about Bob Burnquist (he's Brazilian) and he was a little more receptive and said, 'yeah, he's a little more street.'
I decided to give up on guessing and asked who his favorite skater was. I should have known the answer...Rodney Mullen. If you've ever seen him skate, you would probably agree with Corey...he's one of the best 'street' skaters of all-time.
Corey is no different from any other kid who has dreams or aspirations of becoming the next professional athlete. In fact, his story is strikingly similar to a variety of them. He lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his mom, little sister, older brother, his niece, and sometimes his brother's girlfriend. He doesn't have much contact with his father and sadly, he prefers it that way.
The few hours that we spend together a few times a month provides him with a chance to escape his harsh reality. I call it harsh but I've never heard him complain about his circumstances...not even once. If ever there was a 'chain-breaker' Corey is it. He is one of the most polite and respectful children you'll ever meet. He's not perfect, he still struggles with his grades and fights with siblings (who doesn't?) BUT, he tries AND that is what matters.
As I sat and picked at my food I thought about what the few hours we spend together a few times each month means to me. It is a chance to learn and to grow, it's a humbling reality check, it's a time when I can forget about my own concerns and worry about his, and, perhaps the best part, it's a chance to let the kid in me come out.
At 7:15, we put down our forks and made our way closer to the edge of the balcony to get a better look at the show that was about to begin. A man and a woman alternated turns taking dives from different platforms. When it was over Corey turned to me and said, 'that was too short'. He was referring to the entertainment but that same sentiment rings true for life. Life is too short not to take advantage of the time that we have been given, and to spend time with the people that matter most.
The Mayan is a place for decent food, good entertainment, and great conversation.
If you're in the position and you have a few extra hours a month that you would be willing to set aside and volunteer...try out the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. There's a good chance you can help a child from a broken home BUT, more than likely, that child will end up helping you.