Stranger 68, Day 68 - Meet Aiden

Stranger 68, Day 68 – Meet Aiden, the “Exciting (and Dangerous) Brother”

Today’s Stranger is a little younger. He’s the son of a colleague (/ boss) of mine, and though, I know of him, I wanted to get to know him from him. From what my colleague has told me and showed me, his son was a bit on the extreme side with sports. I was curious how his son would share and open up to me. Without further ado……

Meet Aiden, *young gun*

Who are you?

“That’s a hard question… who am I as a person?” He thinks for a while… thinks real hard — his eyes dart back and forth as he searches for an answer.

“Happy…?” He laughs. I laugh.

How would you describe yourself?

“Oh… fun! Exciting!”

What makes you exciting?

“I’m always trying new stuff even though it can be dangerous. Scary.”

What’s something you’ve done recently?

“I recently put two ramps (bike ramps) in my front yard, and I put my little sister in the middle laying long ways, and jumped over her on a bike.” Haha, nice. When he said he tried new stuff even if it was dangerous, I figured he meant for himself. I didn’t consider dangerous for another like his sister. I wonder if his sister willingly volunteered for this…

You made it?


Did she make it?

“Yes, she’s okay,” he laughs. “She was scared, but she made it.”

(Four years separate he and his little sister.)

What was the earliest stunt that you’ve done? (First stunt.)

“I don’t really know… when I was 6, I jumped over my mom on a bike. She was, not long ways, but sideways. I jumped over her on a bike when I was 6.”

Why do you like to do this kind of stuff?

“When I was really young, when I was 4, my dad got me a dirt bike. When I was 2, that was when I rode a bike for the first time without training wheels. I never used training wheels. My dad was like, ‘go!'”

“When I was 4, he got me dirt bike. He told me, ‘when you land your first jump, you can get a dirt bike.’ So I got a dirt bike, and he got a dirt bike.” Sounds like my colleague used his son as an excuse to get a dirt bike!

Aiden continued, “So we rode a lot up in a place called Durhamtown. I rode on a track for the first time when I was probably 10. I realized I was really into it. I was pretty good, so I started racing. That just really got me into it — started riding dirt bikes.”

Thinking about your memories so far (by yourself, with friends, with family), what’s a memory you’ve had that was really, really fun for you?

“When I was probably 12, I have a really fun memory — me, my little sister (she learned how to ride a dirt bike), my brother, my mom, and my dad… all of us got to go to Durhamtown, the riding place, and we all got to ride together. It was really fun.”

What about it was so fun?

“I could ride, and I would slow down, and I would let my little sister pass me. Seeing her go over jumps, and seeing my brother go over jumps, and just seeing my mom riding. It was really fun.”

I like to think of big brothers as people who look out for younger sisters and brothers. Is there anything you’ve done to look out for your little sister?

“When I was probably 7 or 9, and she was 5, there was this little kid — he was a boy. She didn’t want to play a game with him. He slapped her. And…” He pauses. “The kid ended up getting a little hurt.”

He smiles, “Like, I punched a couple of times.”

How would you describe yourself as a big brother?

“I definitely look out for my younger brother and younger sister. It’s a little bit different now because my brother’s an inch taller than me now. Looking out for him now is more like, ‘he’s kinda got himself.’ But I still look out for my sister a ton.”

Thinking about all the stuff you’re doing, you’re in military school, right? Do you have any thoughts as to what you want to be when you grow up?

“I’m not completely sure. There’s always that ‘I was to be a professional athlete’, but the chance of it, it’s probably not going to happen. I’ve been thinking about it. I was thinking about trying to major in business management, and trying to find something from there.”

“But, not really sure yet. Or major in finance management, and then, be a financial advisor or a sports agent.”

Thinking about being a professional athlete, it’d be fun, but you said “slim”. What would you like to be a  professional athlete in?

“My first pick would be a professional motocrosser and into supercross and stuff.”

Let’s say you have a chance to be that. What do you think are the qualities that will help you succeed in that?

“Always committing. Once I commit, not quitting, going for it, and all the way through it. Work and heart all the way through.”

Is that also how you would describe yourself? What do you love about yourself?

“Some of the humor, like the jokes I can make sometimes.” Sadly, he didn’t have a joke at the ready. He mentions how jokes come to him, but no matter what, it must come from the “situation”.

Do you plan on wreaking any havoc this Thanksgiving?

“Maybe a little bit. Me and my dad, every year, go and play football in the morning of Thanksgiving with his friend. I plan to wreak some havoc on them when I juke them out.”

No broken bones?

“Hopefully not!…”

Then he admits, “we’re not sure.”

Are you 100% happy with what you’re doing in life right now? If you’re not 100% happy, what will make you happy? And are you going to do it? (Thanks to Amy, Stranger 67)

“No… I mean, if I was 100% happy, I would probably not be at military school. For what I have to do and what I’m doing at school, I’m 100% happy with.”

I asked him what would make him 100% happy.

“I want to go to Wesleyan.” (A private school nearby.)

“So I want to go there. I want to be involved in sports there, but I also want to be racing dirt bikes on the weekends, and doing all I can with that. That would probably make me happy.”

Anything your mom and dad can do to help encourage you to keep pursuing your passions and your dreams?

“Yeah! Them sending me to [the military school] was definitely a big help. Last year, we had 100% acceptance rate to college, and over $5M raised in scholarships. Them doing that — sending me there — if I do the right thing and work hard, it’s basically a free ride to college. That’s something that they’re doing to help me.”

For college, where do you want to go?

“I’m not sure. If I was sure to major in business management, I would probably want to go to UGA because they have a really good business management program there.”

What would you like to ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

“Are you working, if you’re not 100% happy, to become 100% happy with your life?” Looks like I’ll piggyback with Amy’s question for Aiden.

After the handshake.

It was great to spend some time with my coworker’s son. He’s into his teen/ teenage years so he’s really becoming his own person. Yet, it was nice to hear how he involved his family in his interests including one of his most fond memories in addition to stunts with his sister.

What else I thought was interesting was the “slim chance” of becoming a professional athlete. I got the sense that his school was very much putting him on the path to pursuing business management. It makes sense, especially as Aiden spoke of the 100% college acceptance rate. However, it’s also not aligned to his passion and dream of being a professional athlete. I’m curious, then, how the school motivates its students to pursue education while also supporting the students in their passions. It’s an interesting thing being a part of the entrepreneurial circle and also meeting so may others who are seeking paths outside of the business world, and how they all buck the trends to pursue their passions. Or, how they can bring together passion with something less risky.

In any case, that’s great to hear Aiden is doing well in school, and he’s proud of what he’s doing there. I’m also happy to hear he’s still chasing and doing his passion often on the track on the weekends. Will be excited to hear how he continues to grow and shapes tomorrow.

Meet Aiden. No longer a Stranger.

Strangers 20 & 20 Day 20 - Meet Jada and Tara

Strangers 20 & 20, Day 20 – Meet Jada and Tara, the “Loving Sisters”

I stepped into Starbucks this afternoon smiling and greeting the usual ‘crüe’. I was looking around for a Stranger to talk to when sprightly little one walked past me. Turns out, this little girl was the daughter of a friend — I hadn’t met her daughter, yet. And nearby, was the other daughter. Both of my friend’s daughter were on-hand, and curious, I asked my friend if I could speak to them today. She laughs for a second and was totally game.

This project is to connect, yet. But I’ve also been highly interested in the motivations and passions of others. Well, it’s common for adults to lose some of that creativity and passion for life at times, so it was especially intriguing for me to interview two kids full of energy.

Meet Jada (younger sister) and Tara (older sister)

What’s your favorite food?

Jada: “Cakes!” Haha, mine, too. So I followed up asking what types of cakes to which she replied, “All cakes!” Jada and I have much in common.

Tara: “Spicy chicken… just plain fried chicken with hot sauce!”

Her mother laughed when I shared this with her. “Yup! That’s what she loves.”

What do you love to do?

Jada: “Singing.” I asked Jada what song she liked singing to which she responded, “Cheerleader!” After looking this up, it’s by an artist named OMI — I’m not cool enough to know this on my own, haha. (Click here for the song.)

Tara: “Dancing”. No, she did not have a particular type of dancing that she liked doing. She just liked dancing of all sorts.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Tara: “An art teacher or a singer.” Tara shared her favorite singer was Jamie Grace.

Jada: “I want to be a singer… this is like a pop quiz for what we want to be.” Haha, I didn’t even know she would know what a pop quiz was. Apparently, her school really ups the ante at a young age trying to catch them on their toes.

I asked both what they liked most about singing to which Jada responded, “You can do it when you’re sad.” Whoa. That’s a deep answer. I loved that. In the few minutes of speaking to these girls, I found a boost of energy at the end of the day. Jada, especially, has a lot of energy while Tara is more reserved.

Tara chimed in, “it’s fun!”

What do you think it takes to be a singer?

Jada: “I think I have to get singing lessons… singing lessons… singing lessons…” Jada sings. She mentions how her mother tells her to work hard in lessons.

Tara: “Practice.”

What do you enjoy about school?

Jada’s right hand shoots up towards the sky. She’s eager to tell me, “you can learn a lot, and have fun!”

Jada continues to share what she’s learned recently, “If anything has air in it, it floats. But if it doesn’t have air, it sinks.” We talk for a moment about this and why this is. I stay clear of why not everything floats with air, but point out the weight of air vs. the weight of water. She follows my conversation with one of the sweetest, curious faces you’ll ever see.

I turn towards Tara who shares with me, “nouns and natural resources.” Tara is very soft spoken, so I actually had to ask her to repeat herself a few times. Behind those pink-purple glasses is a bright girl.

What do you love about your parents?

Jada: “They’re kind.”

Tara: “My mom tells me to always be myself. My dad tell me to never give up.”

At this point, Jada wants to chime in again, “You shouldn’t ever give up. You have to keep trying, or you’ll never know how to do it.” I admire their spirit, and I hope they hold onto these pieces of great advice from their parents.

For random fun, I ask the girls what’s something interesting they wanted to share. Even knowing Jada’s enthusiasm, though brief, I didn’t think she would make me laugh with her response.

“What’s your lunch number at school!” I’m laughing, and I ask why is that important for me to know, but before I can finish, she continues, “6-3-5-8-0. It’s how you get your to-go to eat.”

Her sister is laughing with her sister now. Tara elaborates, “long story short, don’t have a number, can’t eat.” Well, that’s not entirely true. They correct themselves telling me that the kids can get a temporary number, too.

What would you teach a 3-year-old?

Jada: “How to walk!” Her sister laughs and says 3-year-olds likely know how to walk. Jada thinks, “Hmm… what else? What else?” she says aloud.

Jada excitedly looks at me, smiles her big smile and exclaims, “how to snap!” She shares with me how her older sister taught her how recently.

Tara: “Teach them how to read.” She looks at her younger sister and compliments her by saying, “you’re pretty good.” #aww

What can you teach an adult?

The kids think about this for a while. They’re unsure for a moment.

Jada, true to herself since the beginning, jumps in first, “How to run fast! I can run very, very fast!”

Tara takes off her glasses and looks at me, “not to put my glasses away!” Haha. Apparently, her parents keep taking her glasses without her knowing about it which makes her think she’s lost them. They’re giggling and whispering together now.

Where have you been? (Thanks to Rickey, Stranger 19)

Jada: “In Georgia.”

Tara: “Georgia, Michigan, Florida.”

Jada corrects herself, “Oh wait, me too!”

I laugh inside because Rickey mentioned to me yesterday he was curious how the Stranger would respond. We were thinking this question could elicit a response similar to some path in life or some life lesson. I hadn’t even thought about an answer so explicit to where the Stranger might’ve traveled to. This, of course, is where the girls took the question.

What question do you want to ask anyone like an adult?

Jada: “How to write so good.” As she tells me this, she mimics writing with her right hand in an almost cursive-style.

Tara: “How to do a push-up!” She giggles. Her sister giggles saying, “I can do a push-up!” They laugh at each other, and then sit still in front of me for my next question. Except, my next question is for them to take their picture.

After the handshake.

Well, during the handshake actually, I couldn’t help but appreciate and their shyness in shaking hands and the delicacy of their fingers.

I really enjoyed this entire interview/ connection. It was great. I was wondering if I would speak to kids at some point, and glad I was able to jump right into it for Day 20. It was fun to just take a moment and live in the energy and spirit of these two beautiful girls. I appreciated their energy, their creative innocence, positive outlook, and their support and love for one another.

So meet these two beautiful girls, Jada and Tara. No longer Strangers.