Everybody’s Neighbor

Jay was playing a Game Boy on the couch in his mom’s apartment the first time we met. I walked in, he greeted me by name and continued whatever game he was engrossed in at the time. He was seven, but acted like he had known me his entire life.

Not long after that we were throwing a football behind the apartment we had moved into together when he asked if I was going to be his dad.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Do you want me to be your dad?”

“Well,” he responded, “you sure fit in good around here.”

Jay is technically my stepson now — we dropped the “step” a long time ago — but as long as I’ve known him, he’s had an innate ability to relate and empathize with people of all ages and walks of life.

We currently live in a house on a quiet and usually uneventful cul-de-sac. I say usually because a few years ago an elderly lady lost consciousness and crashed her car into our neighbor’s bedroom. Our neighbor is an older, Irish woman who is as friendly and animated as they come. We occasionally hear her singing opera in her backyard or heckling her Louisiana husband.

On this particular night she was frantic and visibly shaken. People were busy all around her: the EMS attended to the driver, the police wrote their reports, and the towing company extracted the car from her house. They were professionals doing their jobs, but none of those things comforted our neighbor. Jay, on the other hand, instinctively put his arm around her. She reciprocated his embrace as her mind raced through all the scenarios that could have happened. Jay listened, calmed her nerves, and chose not to correct her when she continually called him Jake. That’s quintessential Jay — everybody’s neighbor. He’s always friendly, always caring, and always ready to lend a shoulder.

Those are the traits that make him especially well-suited for a career in not just music education, but any field of education he chooses to pursue. I also believe you’ll find that he’ll make an exceptional student and future ambassador for your institution.

My son is in the process of applying for college and needed a blurb from a parent for an admissions office. The requirement was to write something about him that we (his parents) wanted the admissions office to know that couldn’t be inferred from his application.

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