Three Lessons of a (Big Wheel) Gang Member
Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Not all definitions of the word gang relate to criminal intent. For the purposes of this article we will go with the second definition listed with #MerriamWebster, which is: a group of persons having informal and usually close social relations.
In 1977, the neighbors moved in across the street and The ABC Gang was formed. We were ages two, three, and four and little did we know we would first, conquer the world as small children, and second still be friends 42 years later. With a childhood friendship that would literally last a lifetime, who knew so much of growing up with these two amazing boys, now men, and their parents, would impact how I view the world. These are just a few of the amazing lessons I have taken with me from The ABC Gang:
1. Learn from Others. I can still remember the day my older brother walked me over to meet my soon to be gang members. I remember, even more, the tantrum I had when my older brother, who is six years older, was ready to be done with all the toddlers. As he started to walk out the door to leave me, I whaled, and gang members B and C just stared at me. B and C’s parents assured me I was safe and was going to be just fine. As it turns out, B and C’s parents were right, as they were about many things in my life. Had I not stayed to engage with B & C, my life would be drastically different. I would lack the bonds I have created with my gang. Also, I would lack the bonds I have created with others outside my gang, because B and C taught me how to take care of others, listen to others, support others, and appreciate others.
2. Learn to Take a Punch. “If you’re going to fight, go outside and fight.” Somedays I’m mortified this was the response of my parents when us gang members would have an argument, as I have a clear memory of a stomach punch from “C” gang member. Not all interactions of the gang were good, we annoyed, we harassed, we disagreed, and we fought. However, I learned that you can disagree with others and this does not mean the relationship is over. Although I do not condone fighting, this lesson of being able to disagree, has assisted in work settings and other relationships along my path. I learned that healthy relationships allow you to disagree with one another and ultimately disagreeing can lead to innovative ideas, inclusive relationships, and better understanding of others.
3. Everywhere is a World of Exploration. These Big Wheels (seen in photo) allowed us to travel the world. Granted, at this age, the world was the 20-yard distance between our driveways. However, this was an age that the distance between our driveways seemed vast and wide and was as exciting as a long-distance trip from Ohio to Florida. The hill of B and C’s driveway felt like a roller coaster @cedarpoint. The road between us allowed for us to skid across the pavement. The terrain was mysterious with tar bubbles, potholes, and gravel patches. There were cars that tempted our fate and induced risk as we raced from one driveway to the other. As a gang, we were unstoppable in our exploration. As an adult, having had this foundation of exploration from The ABC Gang, I have been fortunate to see many places on this globe, that are more than 20-yards from the front door.
All in all, there MANY life lessons gained from the friendship of The ABC Gang. As this gang has never missed a birthday for 42 years. This gang has never missed the opportunity to see each other at Christmas. This gang was at each other’s weddings. This gang, no matter where they are, will always be able to pick up the phone and talk to one another. This gang taught me how to be #community.