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Prior to enjoying publications that invited young adult and middle grade readers, I penned op-eds for The Charleston Gazette-Mail. These op-eds varied in topic and audience. Perhaps if I were challenged to select a favorite op-ed, there would be no contest. For the piece that resonated most with me and with folks who were frequent readers of my opinion pieces, would be the one that appeared in the Christmas Eve issue, 2012, “Entitlements, Rights, and Freedoms.”

“In the end, it’s the children – it’s always the children –

who will lead. It’s the children – only the children – who

are entitled. It’s the children who remember what not

to do in order to enjoy those entitlements, freedoms,

and rights . . . A child – every child – knows that to stay

up past bedtime, you’ve got to eat all your vegetables –

even the ones you don’t like, particularly the ones you don’t like.”

For this, my first post on my new blog, I worked with Brian Hoskinson, IT genius extraordinaire, on layout and design. He and his wife Heidi’s son, James, just turned eleven. He’s gifted artistically, and Brian suggested – after I drew a very primitive stick person on a bicycle – that perhaps James might like to work with me in this regard. As a former educator, I quickly supported the idea.

I asked for whimsy, and I got whimsical. I asked for a boy on a bicycle, and I got a boy on a bicycle. I asked for a meadow and a blue sky and a basket filled with books. I got everything I asked for – and then some.

Brian explained to his son that he would receive compensation for his work. And James, who loves to create, became just a tad bit more excited. I sent instructions to James through Brian to perhaps toss some letters in the air, and I got letters tossed in the air. Brian explained to him that since I was in essence hiring James, that as his client I might want him to make changes to his creation. And what transpired was the image above. James also suggested different colors for the letters in the title. I tweaked that just a bit. And suddenly, I recall a line – a great, closing line – from the movie, “Casablanca:” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

And so, in the end, I believe that we will each be at least partially held accountable to gifting to the youth – the only ones entitled – and encouraging them not only to be responsible, but to be open to all the possibilities that meet them along their journey, to be open to collaboration, to be adaptable and flexible – and yes, to eat all their vegetables, particularly the ones they don’t like.

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