I’m not quite not sure how one teaches character or builds it. I think being a good role model is the best way to teach character– by being kind, selfless, compassionate, empathetic. Building character seems to come more from overcoming obstacles– personal tests of morality and emotion.
Ryan– In Ryan’s senior year of high school, he’d spent four years playing for the CHS Varsity Hockey Team, playing consistently each year, most especially his senior year. However, in his four years of playing, he’d only been on the starting line-up twice, something that mattered (if not to all hockey players), to Ryan. I’m not sure if it was the thrill of hearing his name called out or the recognition of confidence in his abilities as a player, but it was considered an honor for Ryan. Even when Ryan’s team was playing more consistently than the “first” line, the coach never started the line he was playing on. Game after game it was the same line in the starting line-up.
Nate, one of Ryan’s teammates, had made the hockey team two of his four years, but never played consistently– more often than not, he was lucky if he got a shift out on the ice in a given game, and some games that shift never even came. At tryouts his senior year, he had been told by the coach he could be part of the team but not to expect varsity playing time. Nate just wanted to be part of the team, so he accepted the coach’s terms.
On Senior night, playing against our #1 rival, a night all seniors look forward to as they are celebrated at the beginning of the game, traditionally, coaches start their seniors, regardless of what line they usually play on. This game was no exception, except that there was not enough spots for all seniors to start on the first line up (the one that their names were to be announced at the beginning of the game). There was one person, one senior, who wouldn’t be able to start. Ryan described this as listening before the game to the coach calling out the names of the seniors to start: George, Tyler, Ryan C, Ryan H, Alan, and Eric. Nate’s name was the only name not called.
Ryan approached the coach and told him he was giving up his spot to Nate– he wanted Nate to have the opportunity just once in his CHS hockey career to be a starter.
(As an aside, 3 of the seniors started every single game their senior year, one of them started every game for 3 years of CHS hockey career, and not one of them volunteered to give up their spot.
And the coach never even acknowledged the character Ryan displayed, but he did start Nate.)
Tyler– Also inTyler’s senior year of high school, he’d decided to attend the first football game of the season on the fan bus. It was a home game despite being moved to a different locale (because they were in the process of putting turf on our field), so the school wanted to attract as many students as possible by providing a bus. Permission slips needed to be signed for the kids to ride.Tylerwent to the game, leaving his car at the high school, with his friends on the bus. While at the game, one ofTyler’s friends got drunk to the point of almost passing out. Because the field was “crawling w/ cops” andTylerdidn’t want his friend to be arrested, he circumvented the exit by taking him through the woods to the parking lot where he called a friend to ask for a ride back toCheshireto make sure his drunk friend made it home safely. Only,Tylerdid not tell the school officials who were running the bus for fear that his friend would be suspended or turned over to the cops. While Tyler was in route to getting his friend safely to the car of the driver who’d agreed to drive them home, my husband got a phone call from the athletic director saying if Tyler didn’t return to the bus, he’d be facing possible suspension to school and risking his captaincy for the hockey season. We calledTylerto find out what was going on and relay the message from the A.D..Tylerknew we were mad because, at this point, we were questioning whether or not he’d been drinking too.
We advised Tyler to drop his friend off and meet the A.D. at the bus (where he had to pick up his own car anyway), so he could tell the A.D. what had happened and show him that he was sober. However, whenTylergot to his friend’s house, his parents were not home.Tylercalled them from his friend’s phone and summoned them home. By the time they’d arrived, the school officials were long gone.
Tyler arrived home, visibly shaken. Teary eyed, which he never is, he explained that he realized the consequences, but he wasn’t about to leave his friend in that state nor was he prepared to turn him over which he knew would lead his friend to face discipline. On Monday morning, he went to the Athletic Director to explain the circumstances and face whatever consequences awaited him.
Alexa– I believe this was in the fourth grade. Alexa was going on a field trip w/ her class– it escapes me to where. But there was a boy in her class named Eric who had special needs and had to take a bus for the handicapped to and from school, in addition to any field trips he could attend. When Alexa arrived home from school, she told me that she volunteered to ride on the bus w/ Eric, so he didn’t have to be alone. I remember her saying, “I have a lot of friends, mom. Eric really doesn’t, so I told Mrs. _ that I’d ride w/ him.”
Sometimes, my children are my role models. I call it reciprocal teaching. I’m proud they are mine ❤ ❤ ❤