Thompson’s Take (Opinion): ‘You’re a good kid, buddy’

good kid; bad kid; authority; officials; thompson's take; daniel thompson; assurance; reassurance; kenosha innovation neighborhood; kin; uptown; project

Today, I had a moment that has led me down a rabbit hole of sorts. 

good kid; bad kid; authority; officials; thompson's take; daniel thompson; assurance; reassurance
Observer Founder Daniel Thompson

I serve as a part-time elementary literacy tutor in the mornings now, and one of my students has had a tough week. And though he missed our session, I saw him standing in the doorway of the office looking at me. 

I asked him how he was. 

And he told me what happened, and he was wiping away his tears. 

Now, this kid, in my experience, is a good kid. He was just in trouble that day.

And in the moment, the only thing I could think to say to him was, “Sometimes we have bad days or bad weeks. But tomorrow can be better. And you’re a good kid, buddy. You’re a good kid.”

And we talked a little bit more and I tried more to reassure him, but I’ve had an uneasy feeling since walking away from him. 



You see, I was once a kid who people labeled “bad”.

Without getting into just years of discussion we could have on the topic, I went to a local private Christian school that had pretty strict, kind of Pharisee-esque rules and penalties for how I was to dress and grow (or not grow at the time, rather) my facial hair.

I had these run-ins with authority figures because I simply didn’t care about my appearance or see how it affected my learning. In fact, I was regularly in the 3.5 GPA range on a 4-point scale. 

Yet, authority at the school ⏤ through those arbitrary rules ⏤ labeled me “bad”. And, in turn, I started to feel bad. 

You know why? The punishment for my bad actions was never followed by reassurance that I was better than them. And I realized that, like me, maybe my student just needed that reassurance that he was still good.

Who knows, maybe he just needed his first instance of any assurance that he was good today.


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When I was a kid, officials I dealt with defined me by my bad actions, without making me feel as though I could be better. 

As a result, I grew up knowing that some people had just given up on me, because I was “bad”.

Parents warned their kids not to hang out with me because of my reputation. And overall, it was just a very isolating, unfortunate experience. 

And I thought of all that standing there looking at this crying child. 

In that moment, I realized that often we grow to be the things we needed when we were younger.

And in that, we are able to possibly offer the simple words a child crying for the same reasons we used to needs to hear:

“Sometimes we have bad days or bad weeks. But tomorrow can be better. And you’re a good kid, buddy.

You’re a good kid.”



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