Image: Tarek and his mentee Theron
After working until 1:00 a.m. Wednesday night, I crawled out of bed at 5:00 a.m. on Thursday morning. I needed to get some work done before going to a 7:30 a.m. CYAR meeting over at what I knew would be a hot room at Manual. Prominent in my mind was a large brief due by midnight that I knew would keep me and my associate working late again. I also knew I was going back to Manual for a 12:30 p.m. lunch meeting.
I decided to take the bus to the school. We only have one car. My wife, Lisa, needed it and was still sleeping, and it would give me time to get some work done while someone else drove.
My bus arrived at the Tabor Center stop. On got Theron, a student at Manual. I know Theron. I dropped my work, waved to him, and he came back and sat with me.
“Hey Tarek, you going to Manual?”
I told Theron he would get a great new mentor, and even if he didn’t, I had his back, just like everyone in our cabin and everyone at CYAR.
I met Theron at my launch course in October 2008. He was in my cabin. He helped make the cabin rules. He helped enforce the cabin rules. He helped clean the cabin. He had a crush on a girl at the retreat, and they would take walks around the grounds during free time… with chaperones following closely… but not too closely.
Theron had a really bad experience when he was a young boy and continues to face extremely difficult challenges. Theron is outgoing, he is social, and he has your back no matter what. Seriously, no matter what. He listens and he follows, he talks and he leads. I have seen him fairly frequently over the last three years, in community workshops, at school, and now on a random bus. Theron is almost always “on the court.” As I always tell him, “Theron….you are the man.”
For the remaining 20 minutes of the bus ride, we talked about how Theron made it to his senior year, how time has passed so fast since we first met in the cabin (Theron picked the bunk above mine), how he has been babysitting 2- and 3-year-olds this summer and one little boy follows Theron around everywhere, how he has been in ROTC for three years but doesn’t want to join the military and “get killed,” how he has all the “standard” classes, but gets to take some electives, how he wants to work for his uncle’s computer company when he graduates and then go to college (but “not far away Tarek, I want stay near my family and people like you guys”).
We neared Manual, and after the only pause in our conversation, Theron blurted out, “I need a new mentor.” (What?!! His mentor David was mentor of the year, and I’ve hung out with David enough to know he is a great guy.) “He’s moving.” Oh. I asked where. Theron couldn’t remember, “California…or Maryland.” It didn’t matter where David was moving, just that he was.
As we got off the bus, I told Theron he would get a great new mentor, and even if he didn’t, I had his back, just like everyone in our cabin and everyone at CYAR. He turned his head, looked up at me, and said calmly, “I know that”…with a smile and look in his eyes that said yes, he absolutely knows that.
I told him my meeting was in Room 127. He walked me there, pointed to it and said that’s where your meeting is.
“Have a good day, Theron.”
“You too, Tarek.”
That’s why I’m with CYAR. That’s what we do.