Douglas, Aaron Kirk. “Growing Up Twice: Shaping a Future by Reliving My Past”, Newsworthy Books; , 2015.
Aaron Kirk Douglas looks at the emotional risks and the rewards that he had during the period that he was mentoring a young Latino boy. At the same time he learned a great deal about himself. Douglas is an award-winning social activist and mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program. Before that he was a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He shares what goes inside of himself while working with an at-risk youngster and he tells us how it was to be just a weekend mentor.
Rico is a fatherless foster child that Douglas meets through Big Brothers Big Sisters. In working with him, he has had to face his own \ memories-and pain-of growing up gay in rural Oregon without the love and acceptance that he wanted from his own father. His experience leads him to forge a new kind of family–the kind one creates for oneself.
This is a book that is filled with raw emotions and inspiration but there is also humor and motivation. It also brings forth question as to whether the life we are now living is as challenging as it should be. Douglas is a man who has a great deal of courage and he drives himself.
Douglas’ story is not only rich and complex but it is also the story of a gay man who was looking for something more in his life. Just because, hg decided to mentor a young at-risk male and at first felt overwhelmed and unsure that Rico would l like him. As the two begin their journey of acquaintance, we see that both Douglas and Rico have their own insecurities and uncertainties as they learn about one another and find they have a lot more in common than they ever realized. Over the course of their relationship, Douglas sees Rico through foster care, placement back with his illegal immigrant mother, and trouble with the law. They become friend and later “family” but it took a while for Douglas to understand that there is more to being a mentor than playing ball and going to movies. He soon realized that he was dealing with much the same pain as was Rico. We become very aware of the life-changing power of unconditional love and perseverance. When and Rico were matched up by Big Brother/Big Sister, Douglas saw that they did not have much in common but as time progressed, they began to learn from each other about how to deals the struggles that life presents us. with life’s struggles.
Douglas saw that he had certain tools that he used on himself to deal with his own childhood and he was able to teach those to Rico. Of course there were periods of struggle but persistence made him stay and work with Rico. This is not just a story but also a reflective journey of “mentorship, of brotherhood, of struggle, of fatherhood, of friendship”. While Douglas’ own story is sad and heartbreaking, it is encouraging to read about how he, without any legal ties, was able to work with Rico who had been selected for him at random. Douglas became determined that Rico was to have his chances at a good life.
It all began when Douglas naively decided that he could have a positive influence on a child with a troubled background. Rico, however, had other ideas. As Douglas dealt his fears and concern for the boy whose life he’d agreed to work with, Rico’s anger and destructive apathy made it very difficult. The two seemed to constantly antagonize each other (at first). Douglas soon understood that he had become impatient and uncertain to the point of becoming resentful and this is not what was expected of him as a mentor to a troubled boy. Ultimately he learned to look past himself to find ways of being able to incorporate direction into young Rico’s life. First off was his refusal to give in to problems and obstacles and he began to find truth and beauty in unexpected places and then brought that to Rico, sometimes quite bluntly.
We see the boy and the man change each other and they both gained a great deal. We, the readers also gained by Douglas’ writing this book. What makes this such a special read is honesty and self-reflection that make this such a fascinating read. We see quite clearly here that people change and how important it is to accept these changes.