It can be different…


It can be different. Or perhaps the title It can also be different a better one. This is a blog about how I saw two kinds of teenagers, in two days time. As a father of two children, I observe and see what I might expect.

They were so proud. These four or five “gentlemen” who were at the school of my son. They were assisting during a special celebration for brothers and sisters of children who attend this school. In Dutch, this day is called Brusjesdag. These four or five “gentlemen” were probably sixteen, maybe seventeen-years-old. Together with other students, they assisted during this afternoon and evening. They weren’t really a good example for others (especially young children) and being the right ambassadors for the school they attend.
I watched them from a distance. This all took place at the back of the school and these “gentlemen” were in charge of the snacks. They were using frying pans for the snacks. Yes, you can ask yourself the question if this kind of unhealthy food should be served. That is another discussion.
These “gentlemen” were done with their business and they started goofing around. They were bored, I guess. They decided to throw frying fat around. This gives a nice hissing sound. It also leaves nasty stains. This wasn’t enough for them. They turned their attention to the bushes and wanted to fry the leaves. That was my signal, I stepped in.
Sheepish looks I got. Not everyone understands Dutch at this school in Oegstgeest they attend. It’s an international school (Google for the right name of this school). I repeated my words in English. I am not the worst kind of person. I wanted to make myself very clear. This didn’t leave a big impression. That’s why I called in their mentor. At first, there were these “classic” denials. The mentor told them this was something they should learn from. I think she was kind of mild, but I didn’t study pedagogy… so what do I know?
I felt that this was our “future” and it made me kind of sad. There were many other students of this school, who made a good impression. Still, I left the school that night with an ambivalent feeling.
The next morning it was time for something else. Without My Scientist and children, I left. I went to the market in Leiden. It was time for a photoshoot at the booth of Ilias Delicatessen. This Leiden based company (also available in other Dutch cities) employs several teenagers. The boys start at 5.15 and the girls arrive a little bit later at the market. I saw, as I did before, young people working together to give the customer this service with a smile. Here these youngsters do their best to take their business seriously. Of course, there is a difference: they get paid for doing this. At the school of my son the teenagers were all volunteers. Should this be the cause of this behaviour? I think not…
It has happened to me numerous times that I met someone who didn’t feel like helping or selling that day. Not at the booth of Ilias Delicatessen though. Rudeness and impoliteness could have caused by these sales employees who were having a bad day. In this case, it was all different on this beautiful Saturday morning.
While I was unpacking my photo equipment one thing immediately became clear: this was a group of people who were inspired by the one who was in charge. When he’s not around, there is always someone to notice things that are in need of change. It’s qualities like this that make you a happy customer. I wasn’t the customer today, but the witness of all of this. As said, beautiful, just like the sunny weather.
So, let’s decide that it can be different. Instead of goofing around, because you don’t know anything else to do, there is a chance not to do this. That is something that I tell my children. Yes, you can become angry, but there is always a possibility not to do this. My seven-year-old daughter and my nine-years-old son seem to understand this from time to time (from time to time they also don’t understand this or don’t want to understand this). How about these “gentlemen” who volunteered at the school my son attends? They are much older than the children of this school. That is why they are a role model. Instead of taking this advantage they decided to misuse this. It can be different, that’s what the teenagers at Ilias Delicatessen showed me today.
It can be different, It can also be different!

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