12 November 2012
Ben writes ...
“Does anyone want a cup or tea?” is shouted from the kitchen on Monday evenings as a couple of young people make tea for us all. The making of tea by different young people communicates a feeling of being at home and a shared hosting of the space between the adult staff and young people who attend our Drop-in. It is a simple and small ritual but one which warms me each week.
Most weeks I’m concerned by the amount of sugar that many young people tip into the cups of tea…. Frequently more than ‘five sugars’ go in. This is obviously not cool. It is hard to resist nagging and insisting that less sugar is consumed, but resist I do, in an attempt to work more strategically and see a bigger picture.
By seeking to regulate the tea making processes I would undermine the hospitality offered to me by the tea maker and it’s doubtful that in the moment I would be able to affect lasting behavioural change (reducing the amount of sugar that went into future cups of tea). There is also an opportunity to be taken whilst sitting down together over a cup of tea to reflect on the day, weekend and key themes for individual young people. A shared few moments over a cup of tea provide the vehicle for connection and community building in which a future conversation about sugar intake will be a minor but effecting intervention.
I have often lamented at the reactionary nature of so many well-intentioned adults when dealing with young people. To step outside the immediacy of wanting to address that, which is before us, can provide us with greater opportunities to build a lasting community whose outcomes are challenge and change.
As well intentioned Youth and Community enablers we need to develop the skill of overlooking the present in order to get to the good stuff