Guest Bloggers: Mike and April

The Carola Home won the high school trophy for with least missing assignments!!
The Carola Home won the high school trophy for with least missing assignments!!

Working hard and having fun!

Hello again from the Carola Home! A new year has begun and our boys are doing a wonderful job with all they have to do. This year we have four Juniors and three Freshman boys in our home. They have worked hard with school work, homework, tutoring, football, other activities and home responsibilities.

First quarter we had five boys make the honor roll and two who were just short of the honor roll, giving our home a GPA of 3.32. Besides studying hard, part of their success is not getting behind in their school work and not having many missing assignments.

The boys had a great time at Wild Water West!
The boys had a great time at Wild Water West!

With all the hard work they put in so far, they really enjoy having some downtime. With donors helping provided for St. Joseph’s Indian School, each home has a budget that they go by. Part of this budget goes to home trips. Home trips are a great time to relax and have fun and build relationships. At the beginning of the year, our home went to LifeLight Music Festival and Wild Water West. They had a great time camping and enjoying some wonderful music, go carts, going down the water slides and swimming in the wave pool.

With funds for a trip already spent, the boys had to come up with a way to make money. Our boys decided to do a car wash to raise funds for another home trip.

The car wash was a great success.
The car wash was a great success.

The boys used a no school day for the car wash. They asked for a freewill donation to support their home trip. They washed many cars and they spent all day with such a positive attitude and worked very hard. They made enough money for the trip – hiking at Harney Peak, shopping at the Rushmore Mall, and dinner and movies in Rapid City.

The boys are always saying “thanks for dinner” and while we were out at the restaurant they said, “Thanks for dinner.” We reminded them that they earned this themselves and thanked them for dinner.

They were very proud and so were we. They also realized how working hard can pay off.

Big smiles from the Carola Home.
Big smiles from the Carola Home.

God’s blessing on our school year

We had our first weekend mass with the students.  Some of the students who attend St. Joseph’s aren’t all that familiar with church and it takes a while for them to learn the songs, find their places in the book and get used to the routine. But there was a good and lively spirit in the pews as we gathered to pray and ask for God’s blessing on the new school year.

While the grade school students have completed a full week, our high school students didn’t have to be back until today. The students staying in the two homes open early for those participating in sports moved from their temporary quarters into the rooms they will have for the year. In the Giles Home (freshman boys) everyone was back early. The supper table was full as they wolfed down Aaron’s homemade vegetable beef soup. Melissa remarked that they worked with 1st-3rd graders last year, and they are going to have to adjust the quantity of food they cook considerably!

The upperclassman straggled in a little later, and one or two called in because of transportation difficulties. But it’s good to have the campus mostly full again and coming back to life.

Who is easier, boys or girls?

Due to some staffing changes, last month I found myself moving from my comfortable world of teenage girldom, to that uncharted territory of testosterone known as the high school boys’ homes. I was a bit nervous at first.  I haven’t lived in a house full of teenage boys since I graduated from high school umpty-scrunch years ago.  My  hazy memories of life with 4 brothers included garage bands, broken bones, girls calling all hours of the day and night, and mechanical objects being taken apart and reassembled with varying degrees of success.  So when I stepped into Sheehy Home and saw the drum set, the crutches and partially disassembled remote control, at least it felt familiar if not entirely comfortable.

We were debating this in a staff meeting earlier this year.  Which group is easier:  high school girls or boys?  Hands down, people seem to think that girls are harder.  Sure, “boys will be boys,” meaning that they end up in the ER with freak accident injuries from jumping over couches or doing handstands.  Sure, boys leave towels all over the floor.  How do they use so many towels and why?  I don’t know.  But girls?   Girls are “emotional”.  No, girls have subtly nuanced levels of emotional upheaval that would be hard to plumb with a PhD, a compass and a troop of Avon representatives.  Or so I’m told.  But I sure do miss them.

So I’m off to a new adventure, one that, according to popular wisdom will be infinitely “easier” than the journey I have been on.  Right now,  I can rely on the wise counsel of people who have already established relationships with the boys.  Or I can even ask what would Jesus do in this situation.  Not that he ever had 18 teenage boys to take care of.  But he must have had some dealings with adolescents because he made a whole sermon about them:  blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall take the middle seat and save all of the rest of mankind from the wrath of the driver; blessed are those who hunger for justice, for they will make sure that you enforce the rules fairly or at least see to it that you know when you’re being unjust; blessed are those who mourn, especially those who have to mourn too soon and too often and too much, because they will change your life and make you rethink  your priorities.

In writing this out, I  concluded that I have been looking at this move from the wrong angle.  The question really isn’t “Who is easier?” but “What do I have to offer, and what gets in the way?”  One stumbling block is having dumb ideas about what boys are like or girls are like,

“I can’t work with boys!  I’m too girly!  I am not good with power tools!  I can’t talk about sports or hunting!  It’s a disaster!”

Another obstacle is knowing that these boys need more than just what I have to offer, and thinking somehow I need to solve that.  That’s a mistake I think a lot of us make: thinking our small part isn’t enough and the little that we can do doesn’t matter.  Really, what is needed  for a whole lot of little somethings to come together.

So, what does a middle-aged white woman have to offer a bunch of teenage Lakota guys?  What does anyone have to offer another?   When in doubt, go back to the basics: Show up.  Pay attention.  Give a hoot.  Keep showing up. Make sure the same person keeps showing up each time, and not some façade constructed to make sure we all get along.  Occasionally bake brownies.

I genuinely like these kids, so showing up and caring isn’t all that hard.  (The boys think I’m a little weird, but they’re also pretty forgiving. )  As for all their other supporters near and far, families, role models, teachers, elders, mentors, and caring friends like you—just keep doing your part. Tune in, show up, take interest, give a hoot and keep us in your prayers.  Now wasn’t that easy?