Nate and his shadow

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When my orange-haired, freckle face son Isaac was in fourth grade, he got to be a Kinder-Buddy. This tradition is intended to help the little kids transition to the rules and structure of school. Most people get just one Kinder-Buddy in their lifetime. Ike got three. Two got kicked out of school and the other he only had for a week. I’m not sure how much mentoring took place in that short time!

Now I have a son at West Point and in a way he’s got his own Kinder-Buddy. That’s because every yearling (also known as a yuk also known as a second year college student) gets a new cadet (soon to be known as a plebe also known as a freshman college student) to take under his/her wing. We’re hoping he will have more success than Isaac!

When Nate returned to WP on Sunday, he got to meet his new cadet. Josh (not his real name) and Nate will be spending a fair amount of time together.

I really like this about West Point; that the importance of strong leadership and mentoring is stressed. This allows my son to hone his skills as a compassionate and knowledgeable leader. Judging from how Nate takes being the oldest son very seriously, I’m sure he will rise to the challenge with Josh.

It’s also given me a chance to do my part in the process. On Saturday night my friend Carol posted something on facebook about getting some treats for her yuk to give to his new cadet. It sounded like a great idea but I wasn’t sure if my son would want to do that. I have to tread lightly on certain things. It was about 8pm when I asked Nate if I could bake something for his new cadet and was surprised when he said sure. Sometimes my OS isn’t too keen on my suggestions and offers for help, but he actually seemed happy when I made the offer.

So after dinner I made my OS’s mystery cadet some homemade chocolate chip cookies. Thank goodness for the internet because I didn’t have brown sugar and found a recipe which contained all the ingredients I had on hand. They tasted good and I was happy.

When Nate met his new cadet on Sunday (they don’t become plebes until A-Day which is August 15), Nate

introduced himself and then gave the guy the cookies. Nate had also picked Josh up some candy and soda and those are treasured and coveted items when you’re a new cadet. In the days leading up to A-Day, it’s easy for new cadets to feel lower than pond scum.

Aside from going to the bathroom, basically Josh can’t go anywhere without Nate. Josh needs books, Nate’s got to go with him. Josh is hungry, Nate is with him at every meal. My OS says he feels like he has a child or a pet! HA!

Once you become a full-fledged plebe, it’s not a whole lot better. How nice that at the very least, Josh will have a person who treats him with respect and will help him become his best. According to Nate, the guy was gushing with thanks after receiving the snacks. “Corporal, that’s awesome! Thanks, Corporal!” (It makes me smile to think of someone calling my baby “Corporal.”)

When some people are in leadership positions, they use their authority to abuse and demean those below them. We’ve all had horrible bosses, terrible teachers; you know those people who were completely inept and woefully in charge. But I know personally that when people take interest in my life, I am definitely more apt to follow their direction and try my best. I’d like to think that I have unknowingly passed on some lessons on how to treat others and inspire. And if I have done that, NONE of the glory goes to me by the way, it’s only because of Jesus!

I also liked what I heard about Josh. According to my son, not only did Josh like my cookies but he shared them with his buddies.

Until school starts, Nate’s new cadet will tag along wherever Nate goes. This semester, Nate will serve as this young man’s encourager, motivator, mentor and if necessary, butt-kicker. My OS is well-suited for this position!

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