My mother played music on Tuesday nights with a younger couple. When the couple had a baby, they would bring him over to our house to sleep in the back room until we were done. As he got older, sometimes I would play with him. I am the youngest child, and so babies were a bit of a novelty back then (and still). One day I was playing keep away with the baby, who was now one, and Mama Clause said sharply, “Don’t do that, Indy, you’re teaching him to keep the ball from people.”
This is when I learned that kids were like sponges. I grew up and had no children. The dog knows how to keep the ball away without my teaching him. I work part-time in a college environment, molding and/or corrupting young minds. (True story: An entire year of college students decided it was okay to cuss at work because I cussed at work. Oh shit, I forget that I’m a grown up.)
Yesterday I introduced one student to another “this is L, she is and will be a tutoring powerhouse.” It was a dumb metaphor, but it was the end of the day, so you will excuse me. To my surprise, L turned bright red. Right, I forgot about that. What I say has more power than I think it does sometimes. Although I’m not a supervisor, I’m one of the adults. I am a mentor. I am the cool aunt friend. I fuss at my college-aged colleagues to eat, to sleep, to write well, to give good criticism, to apply to grad school, to write kick-ass cover letters, to ask for that raise, to try for that job, to study abroad, to write, write, write. And sometimes they listen to me.
They, too, are like sponges. Underslept, stressed-out, hilarious, lovely sponges.
Who do you mentor?