Thursday, August 25, 2011

a proud proxy parent

I've been thinking for some time now that one of the unexpected spin offs of years of Quaker youthwork is the number of 'proud proxy-parent moments' that come along year after year. In many cases it is long after the YPs (young people - UK) or JYFs (Junior Young Friends - ANZ) have ceased to be teenagers. This week has been particularly exceptional.

On many occasions Facebook has been means by which I've heard of these events - be they climbing Kilimanjaro, running half/marathons or whatever and organising events to raise money for charity (often Cystic Fibrosis - the 'Anders effect' in action yet again!), standing up for those with little or no voice in society, amazing athletic achievements, voluntary work overseas, working in far flung places, making their way up the academia ladder, publishing books, writing and recording music... The list goes on and on and on.

Also I see them going back and being staff at the very events where I first met them, keeping the torch burning, inspiring further generations to 'be patterns, be examples' and walk/climb/swim/cycle/etc cheerfully over the world. I see them also going back to be speakers, I see them taking responsibilities within the Quaker world as well as the 'real world' out there.

It reminds me of the people who inspired me as a Quaker teenager, who made me want to be like them and come back as a 'stu hel', link group leader or staff - some of whom I still manage to connect with, again mostly through Facebook, and I really value having that connection still there. Which is why when I get a 'Facebook friend request' from any of the YPs from over the years I almost always accept. It certainly adds variety to my newsfeed it has to be said given their age range is mid teens to mid 30s!

But more importantly it reminds me that I am part of a continuum; that I've provided some of those 'proud proxy-parent moments' for others who did a pretty good job of training me up as a Quaker teenager/Young Friend and that whilst I am now old enough to be the real parent of any teens I work with, actually age doesn't really come into it - I still feel like a proud mum whether they are 35 or 15, and what's more I'll probably still be collecting Quaker 'children' for a good number of years to come.

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