We all know that guiding and nurturing children is paramount , not only to their development, but also to the future of the world in which we live. Dragging their satchels, rucksacks and coats down the street, are future doctors, nurses, teachers and lawyers…and of course, drunks, women-beaters, politicians and thieves!
So, it’s important when possible, to offer guidance to young minds, to encourage them to think laterally about themselves, their world and their futures. That’s where mentoring can really help.
I was contacted by Felicia Browne, President of the Caribbean Mentorship Institute and invited to speak about a career in photography, with a group of children assembled at a local library.
I’d done my own homework, prepared my notes, anticipated questions…I was on top of my game. As a natural speaker, and having trained Chairmen, Directors and top management in public speaking…I was confident I could cope with a few kids, aged between 8-12…
And, I was great! The kids were responsive, appreciative and listened intently to what I had to say about photography, enjoying your career, the benefits etc etc.
At the end…I asked if anyone had any questions… Now, I could have finished my speech and gone…but mentoring is all about the interaction, and communication…so you’d think that accepting questions from an eager audience could only be a good thing…!
And for the first few questions, it was! The eyes of these children lit with excitement and interest…filling me with satisfaction and pride as I answered every question…”Great job!” I told myself…!!
Then it happened…then, came my only mistake…and I should have seen it. As hands raised for the next invitation to ask a question…I saw him…his eyes gleeful in the knowledge of what he was about to do…yet still…I pointed at him and said…”Yes, what’s your question?”
He smirked, giggled, smirked again…and said “Sir, can I come with you when you photograph naked ladies?”….!!
There was silence…I could hear the blood running through my body…as I stared…and stared…staring some more…right out of the window and over to the park below! What seemed like minutes were probably milliseconds as I told myself how important, how life-changing my next sentence might be…and considered every option. Never one to be put on the spot, never short of a quick and witty response…this 10yr old had nailed me to the floor!!
Then it came to me, a moment of inspirational brilliance, a feeling of emotional liberation that overwhelmed and excited me…!!
And so, I stood tall & proud, cleared my throat…
…ignored him, and pointed to the girl next to him…”And what is your question sweetheart?”!!!!