What my son’s Big Brother has meant to me.

May 29, 2012

In order to understand what having a big brother in my son’s life has meant to me you would have to understand my son.

 

Brendan is full of life, love, energy and questions. He is always willing to help another. But he can also be argumentative, stressful, and exhausting. At an early age he was diagnosed with ADHD and a learning disability. It was hard for Brendan to make friends and when he was 4 he used to tell me he hated himself. When he was around 7 he was enrolled in BBBS. He attended what was called "THE BIG BUNCH GROUP," a group for little’s that were not matched yet. This is where he first met Adam.

Adam and Brendan were matched after Adam had been Brendan’s counselor for a week at camp McGovern. They were matched for about 2 years. During this time I seen a happier more matured child. He couldn’t wait to see Adam on the weekends. When Adam moved onto University he had to resign due to his overwhelming schedule. I was sad but happy for having the opportunity to have someone as great as Adam to be in my son’s life, even for a short period of time. Although Adam is no longer Brendan’s big brother he has kept in touch with Brendan and last summer invited Brendan to his home for a visit. Adam will never be forgotten.

Brendan was once again placed on a waiting list for a new big brother and during the two year wait, Brendan was having behavioral issues at home and at school. His learning disability has placed him socially and academically behind, he was frustrated. Then one meeting that Brendan was at for BBBS he met Shane. Shane had helped Brendan that evening with his reading and they talked about things of interest. Brendan was now 11 years old. It was not long after that, that they were matched.

Although Shane had some difficulty adapting to Brendan’s behavior he never gave up on him. Shane would remind Brendan how he should behave when they were in public, what language was inappropriate and to not interrupt when someone was speaking. I seen the changes in Brendan and was pleased.

Shane, in the beginning came every weekend and he was a blast. Not only did he make Brendan run to the door with excitement, he brought a very enthusiastic personality with him. I even told him at one point that he was "a ray of sunshine," because he seemed so happy all the time, that it would become contagious. Shane is very energetic and a funny person to be around. I seen the "happy" return to Brendan and he cared for Shane a lot.

He would phone Shane just to talk and always looked forward to the next outing. Shane shared his love of hockey by taking Brendan to some games. They toboggan and snowmobile in the winter. They have seen the CNE together and the Royal Winter Fair. But it is not what they have done or seen together that has really made this match wonderful it is the way I see the two ofthem relate to one another now. They joke, they play, they laugh, but most of all I really see Shane listening and guiding Brendan through some tough times. Brendan has done better in school, he has settled down more and is trying harder. His behavior has improved so much that he was able to apply to a special school in London for his reading. Something they were unable to do in the past.

Shane has not only opened his heart, his knowledge, his passion for life to Brendan he has included Brendan on visits to his farm and outings with his family. Brendan really enjoys these visits and enjoys Shane’s family as well. Shane has always spoke about the word "respect" with Brendan, and he is showing it much more, not only to me but to the teachers as well.

Today Brendan has friends and is more outgoing. He plays soccer, floor hockey, snowboards and is in boxing. He feels more acceptance with his peers and goes to hockey games and dances held at the arena. He has a different attitude at school and gets along so well with his teachers that he has been awarded for doing so. Just recently he received an award for RESPECT. I am told by his teachers that he is a pleasure to have in their class now and he is always willing to help.

Brendan at times can still be a handful, but I truly believe that without Shane in his life it would be so different. I cannot express how heartfelt I feel for what BBBS has done for my son. Being matched with such wonderful people have made a big difference in his life. Thank you to everyone.

Brenda W. Parent


Impact of Mentoring