Friday, November 19, 2010

D.A.R.E. to be Different

It's time to put my daughter Maggie in the spotlight.

We have three kids. Ironically, it's not the twins that are very much alike, or even the two girls, but Caitlin and Ryan who seem to be cut, if not of the same mold, at least near the same kiln. I often remember writing down little notes in their early years of how Caitlin and Ryan did one thing, and Maggie did quite another. I was going to write a book titled "...And Then There's Maggie."

I'm still considering it. She gave me quite a lot of documented material.

See, Maggie is this interesting dichotomy of enormous talent and complete indifference. She has more natural athletic ability than the other four of us put together.

And absolutely no ambition.

Her "love language" is Quality Time. She has little interest in electronic gadgets, much preferring board games played with other living, breathing human beings. She's social, but not in the way of joining everything, pursuing popular programs or even having a wide group of friends.

Maggie likes one-on-one. And she doesn't easily tire of it. So when she finds something she's interested in, we get a little excited around here. Because as much as she likes the social interaction, she usually won't join anything that requires too much of her.

We haven't pushed her into sports or academics or park district courses. We're happy to save the money - and truth be told - the time and gas required to shlep another child to another destination on any given weekday/end. We've been content to have her participate in Girl Scouts which only meets about once a month after school. But something peaked Maggie's interest at school recently and the result was kind of amazing.

Maggie got totally into the D.A.R.E. program. You know the program...Officer Friendly on steroids. DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION. DARE to say NO to drugs.

Maggie was all in.

She not only participated actively at school, she attended CSI-like presentations at the library and applied herself like superglue.

For her efforts she was recognized as one of two kids in the entire 6th grade (about 100 kids) as "DARE Student of the Year." There was a ceremony, a customized plaque, photos with the Chief of Police and more. We were so proud we totally let her blow off her small group at church to attend the award celebration.

At a time when kids are exposed to more dangerous vices at earlier ages in a culture that is increasingly tolerant of it, I am thrilled that the activity that finally warranted my daughters efforts and commitment was one that teaches her to go against the grain.

That's pretty much what the Christian life consists of in 21st century America. Going. Against. The. Grain.

It used to be when I came home as a kid and asked my mom to do something (or got caught doing something I shouldn't have been doing) and pleaded that "everyone else was doing it" that possibly two or three kids I knew were doing it. Now when my kids come home and talk about non-stop texting, or whatever the new must-have/must-see/must-do thing is and tell me "everyone else is doing it," literally, everyone else is doing it.

Makes me really grateful Maggie was honored for not doing something too many other kids are.

No comments: