Two years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a Big Brother with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of American organization. At the time there was some question about it because one of the requirements is that you can not have had a DUI within five years (or more than one, ever). I won’t go into details at this juncture but at the time I had one DUI on my record that had happened a little over three and a half years prior. However the BBBS website also said that they had a real need for Big Brothers, so I thought maybe that would out-weigh the restriction and I submitted my application anyway. Several months passed before I got a response to my application but unfortunately they weren’t able to accept me until the DUI was five years old.
I was disappointed but I also learned that the wheels move slowly with the organization so when I decided that I did, indeed want to pursue being a Big Brother, I decided to reapply in August, even though the fifth anniversary of my DUI wouldn’t happen until January. The wheels did, indeed, move slowly and it wasn’t until November that I even got an interview. The interview went well, the time passed and before long the fifth anniversary of my DUI had come and gone and there was nothing to hold me back… Well, almost nothing.
Jenny, the Match Specialist, told me the day of the interview that it would probably take awhile to match me with a Little Brother because, even here in the San Francisco Bay Area, there are a lot of people who are unwilling to have their children matched with a homosexual, so I was prepared for it to take a long time.
Finally, around mid-May, Jenny contacted me about a potential match with a young boy whose father had been out of the picture for a long time and was just starting to come back around. Dad saw his son for a few hours every other week-end and Mom wanted a more steady male influence in the boy’s life. Jenny hadn’t discussed my sexuality with Mom and wanted to make sure that I was interested before she addressed that subject but felt like Mom wouldn’t mind. It turned out that Mom didn’t mind, but Dad, who had abandoned his family and is hardly around now, apparently did. Imagine how happy I was to have it inferred that it is so much worse to be gay than it is to be a dead-beat dad. It’s just as well, really. I wasn’t completely sure about being matched with this boy and it was probably providence that we weren’t. But I was disappointed and began feeling like maybe me being a Big Brother was a mistake and this was a sign that I should not do it.
I left it in God’s hands. I would wait to hear from Jenny. If being a Big Brother was right for me, she would call me again with another match and if it wasn’t right for me, I probably wouldn’t hear from her again anyway. All these months later, I was pretty sure that it was never going to happen.
Jenny called me on July 20th to tell me that she had a potential match. I was still on my trip and it took a few days for me to get back, get the message and call her back, and when I did we played phone tag for a few days. Finally, Jenny and I spoke and she told me about the little boy she had in mind for me. It sounded like it might be a good match, as much as you can tell from a three minute conversation with a third party, so I agreed to meet him.
One thing that is heavily stressed in this program is protecting the anonymity of the child so I will be very frugal with the information I share. For the purposes of this blog, I shall refer to him only as Little, Little Brother. Little’s family has gone through a rough patch and his father is no longer in the picture. I suppose it’s somewhat harsh of me to say, but I’m relieved to know this. I can’t help feeling like Mom brought Little into this program voluntarily to introduce a stable male influence in his life and therefore will be glad of my involvement. Dad on the other hand, no matter how absentee he might be, might still be inclined to have opinions and judgments about me and as much as I wish it weren’t true, I’d feel self-conscious about that, at lest at first.
I had my “guided introduction” to Little and his family yesterday afternoon. Little has a brother a year older than he who is also being matched with a Big so we had a group introduction where I met both boys, their younger sister, Mom and the other Big. I’m concerned about the outcome of the other match. The Big Brother seems unavailable in my opinion, but that’s not my responsibility, Little is.
Little is a cute kid. Seven years old, he was shy at first but came out of his shell after a few minutes. I can understand that. I was pretty nervous myself. But we talked about the things he likes to do and when would be a good time to hang out. It looks like Sunday afternoons are the best time and we have our first outing this Sunday at 2:00. When Hadley, the Match Support Specialist we’ll be working with moving forward, asked Little what he liked to do he said, “play.” Thanks kid! That narrows it right down.
We did determine that he likes to play Soccer (which I do not know how to play) and he enjoys going to the park (where I’m likely to spontaneously combust.) Lesson number one: The importance of sun screen.
Since this will be our first outing, I want him to feel comfortable. I will take him to a park where he can “teach me” how to play soccer. I imagine this is going to amount to him kicking the ball at me, me missing it and him laughing at me. I guess I can live with that. Hopefully, he’ll open up a bit more about the kinds of things he’s into and we can find some other things to do on our future outings that we will both enjoy… not that I don’t think I’ll enjoy this… maybe.
One thought on “Oh Brother”
I admire you for being willing to make such a commitment! I’m sure all will turn out well as the two of you get to know each other. 7 year olds are known for being vague. You’ll figure out his interests soon enough. You just need to suggest a variety of things and he’ll let you know which direction he wants to go.