Doing the best I can

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

By Nathan Rice

I wasn’t scheduled to pick up the young man for another five hours, but my mind was already thinking about our time together. I wondered what I should talk about with him. Should I try, once again, to get him to talk about the difficult things that happened in his life earlier in the year? Perhaps it would be best to just focus on the school year and to see if he would open up to me about his new school, teachers and classmates. On the other hand, maybe now is the time to allow him to have some fun outside of his house, without having to discuss the difficult parts of life.

The day continued as planned. We had our time together in the afternoon, and everything went well. After I dropped him off at his house, I thought, “I hope I said the right things today and made the right choice about what to discuss.”

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I wonder about things like this often. I tend to analyze every time I spend with the kids who were entrusted to my care. Should I have tried more to get them to talk about a serious topic that I think they need to discuss? Did I force them to discuss a painful situation when all they needed was to have fun for a while? Why didn’t I say such-and-so when they said this-and-that? Was I too strict by not allowing a certain behavior? Was I too permissive by letting them do this certain thing? My mind can be relentless, and I question myself more than I question anyone else.

Thoughts like these often continue to swirl around my mind for a long time. I know I’ll never be able to know if each of my decisions were the correct ones or if everything I said was the right thing to say, but I do know three things.

First, I know that I always do my best. I consider our time together carefully, strive to make the most of every minute I am given with them, and pray for wisdom before we are together. It’s the best I know how to do.

Also, I strive to learn from my experiences and the experiences of others. If I notice something that I should have done differently, I am sure to make a note of it for next time. I learn new things all the time, and I make adjustments to my strategies and plans from what I learn.

I am careful to pay attention to other people who work with kids, and I have learned a lot from those who have helped me along the way. I watch how others work, and I take ideas with me that I can use as I work with kids.

Lastly, I know everything I do is done with love. I do what I do because I love the kids with whom I work, and I desire the best for their lives. I know I am not perfect, but I try to let them know how much they are loved by what I say and what I do.

Helping kids is hard, and it’s harder for those who tend to internalize everything and question every word they speak. Do the best you can, continually grow and learn, and do everything in love. Perhaps I, and those like me, can rest a little bit easier when we know we have done these three things.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at