When working with youth and teens it’s always good to find common ground. That can come in a variety of forms but one of the best is to just be honest and share the stories from your life that helped shape you. I absolutely love sharing this story because at the time (eighth grade) it was incredibly traumatic even if now it seems a little silly. It’s also very self deprecating and being in a vulnerable position with youth and teens is definitely a place you want to be, at least if you want them to share with you. So here is the story.
At the end of 7th grade the school I was attending was closing, it was a satellite of the main campus of the private school I had always attended. Although I always knew I would eventually have to attend the main campus in high school this put me having to start going there in eighth grade, something I had not mentally prepared myself for. Although comparisons are never as easy as “The Breakfast Club” would like us to believe, in my mind it was like “The Outsiders” and I was a Greaser being forced to enter the world of the Socs’. That sentence had 2 movie references from the 80’s which automatically makes it one of the best sentences I’ve ever written. So, my school was closing and now I was moving to a new school where I didn’t know very many people and my jean jacket was not going to play very well. I definitely thought of myself as the Johnny Bender of the seventh grade.
I’ll skip ahead a little to the main part of this story. I was not fitting in all that well, however some of that probably had a lot to do with the fact that I didn’t expect to fit in very well, so it became kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. I can’t say exactly when it happened but in one particular class we had a substitute teacher and for some reason she wrote our names out on the board in cursive. I don’t remember what purpose it served but it doesn’t really matter, she did it. This sub was having a particularly tough time dealing with eighth grade boys so the room was already kind of rowdy. So imagine the scene, substitute teacher, rowdy classroom and then it happened, she wrote my name in cursive on the board. Doesn’t sound like too big a deal except when you write Brett in cursive if you make the “r” too skinny and the “e” too skinny it really really looks like BUTT. Well that was it, the class lost it. Not only had the teacher accidentally written BUTT on the board it was attached to someone’s name who was a relatively easy target. BUT wait, there is more. Just as the class was starting to come around someone remembered my middle name was Rogers and BUTT Rogers sure does sound like someone kids in the 80’s might remember.
Well I knew right then that that was a name that was going to have to staying power. It was honestly just too good and to have happened so organically. If it had been part of an 80’s movie it would have been an amazing piece of writing but unfortunately for me it was my life. And I know the next time you see me you are going to have to resist the urge to call me BUTT Rogers, I mean it’s really good but remember that even at 42 there is a part of me that is still that 8th grader trying to fit in and I think that’s pretty true of all of us.
I like to end that story by reminding everyone of Psalms 139:16 and Jeremiah 1:5. God made you and Butt Rogers very special. Oh, and if you could not tell the continent of Africa the BUTT Rogers story just yet, that would be great.