Mentoring Real Life Story: All Things Must Come to an End
“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” – Ellen Goodman
All things must come to an end, but what really matters is how you close that chapter in your life. For Bigs and Littles, this topic is especially important to discuss. With the help of our match support team, Bigs and Littles can plan out a way to healthily end their relationship. In this blog post, we talked to Big Brother Mike Lodigiani who shares his experiences as a Big to his Little Freddy, along with the healthy closure process they went through together. Hopefully other matches can learn from their experience.
Why did you decide to become a mentor?
I decided to become a mentor because I used to volunteer in my hometown recreational center coaching basketball to 5th & 6th graders and I missed the rewarding feeling that you get when giving back to the community you live in. I had been looking for something to do with my free time and my sister recommended BBBS. The more I learned about the program and the opportunity to start and develop a 1 on 1 relationship the more I wanted to join.
What were your initial feelings with your match?
When Freddy and I met for the first time I was excited to see how open he was to trying new things. Obviously as a Big you’d like to find a Little who’s interests match yours but I think it’s also important to try new things with your match so both of you can experience them together. Since Freddy was willing to try and do new things we never ran out of great ideas for our get-togethers.
What are some of your favorite things to do together?
I would have to say one of our favorite things to do together would be going to the park near Freddy’s house with a ball and create our own game together. My personal favorite was tennis golf (even though Freddy beat me every game) where we would use the rackets as putters and create obstacles around the court.
What is your favorite memory together?
My favorite memory together with Freddy was when we played another one of our made-up games where we went to the park in the fall and tried to catch leaves falling from the trees before they hit the ground, which is much harder than you would think. It sounds like a silly game but we had a goal of catching 10 leaves before going home and between the laughing and running around we bonded really well that day. I think it was a huge moment in our relationship because we saw the goofy side of each other and broke down some barriers that really helped us get to know one another better.
How have you seen your relationship grow from the first time you two met?
I have seen our relationship grow in many different ways but the biggest growth I have seen is in Freddy’s confidence. Initially, I would be coming up with ideas for our hangouts and initiating the conversations. Then after a month or so, Freddy would be telling me what he wanted to do for our next hangout, letting me know new jokes he had heard and telling me about school. During our final hangout he told me that he joined his school’s touch football team and is looking to join a soccer league as well showing how much his self-confidence had risen.
If you could describe your Little with just one word, what would it be?
If I had to describe Freddy in one word, I would choose “courageous”. This was probably the hardest question on the list because Freddy is one of the most gifted kids I have ever met. However, I would say Freddy’s willingness to try and learn new things defines the kind of kid he is. It shows that he is interested in seeing what other skills he has beyond the things he knows he already does well.
What do you think your Little has learned from you?
As I mentioned above, I think Freddy has learned to trust himself and is now more confident. It took some time to develop but once we continued trying new things and saw him master them it really opened his eyes. He truly is an unbelievable kid so being able to help him see his potential has been very rewarding.
What did you learn from your Little?
I think the most impactful lesson I learned from Freddy is to be optimistic. Freddy always seemed to be in a great mood and would look at things through a positive lens. It has helped remind me about priorities in life and not to take certain things for granted.
Describe the end of your match. How was the process?
The process for ending a match is difficult because ending your relationship but overall I thought it went very smoothly. I knew I would be moving and my job was getting much busier so I sat down with Freddy and his family to let them know the situation. I talked to them a month and a half before my move so it gave us time to plan out our final hangouts.
What tips would you have for other matches who are closing?
I think the most important tip I would give to other matches that are closing is to set expectations as early as possible. This definitely made my closing process easier because both sides knew we were working towards a final date so it wasn’t a surprise to anyone.
What lessons did you learn from the closure process?
A lesson I learned from the closure process is that it’s nice to have something to remember the last meeting by. It can be something different for each match but for Freddy and I we signed each other’s footballs and Big Brother shirts so we always had something to remember each other by. It was a really nice way to close the relationship and reminisce about all we had done together.
What would you tell others who may be interested in becoming a Big Brother, but may have hesitations?
I would strongly encourage others who may be interested to just take a call with the people who work at BBBS. Their staff does a great job and gives you the resources and information you need to be a positive influence in someone’s life. They do a thorough job matching Bigs and Littles so when you finally get to meet, you know that a lot of thought went into matching your preferences and interests with the Littles.
What would you tell other Matches that are entering in the end of their match? How can they do it in a healthy way?
As I mentioned above, I would tell Matches to just be honest and realistic with themselves and their Littles. If you have a reason for ending the relationship take some time to think about how you’d like to discuss it with the family and definitely try to do it face to face. I would also recommend giving specific reasons for why the match is ending to make sure the Little fully understands and doesn’t leave them guessing.