You guys remember me telling you that I joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, right??? Despite my lack of posting about it, I most certainly HAVE been continuing the program. I thought it was high time I share some thoughts about my role as a "Big" with you.
Let me take you back to where it all started...
If you know me well at all, you're probably aware that I'm not one of those kid-crazed "let me hold your adorable baby" types. (gag. sorry, babies.) At one point in my life I vowed to never have children, but much to my mother's delight, I've since retracted that statement. I'm now warming up to the idea of eventually becoming a mother. Hanging out with my friends' children helped me realized that they aren't all diseased ridden brats...they're actually kinda cool.
I struggled with some pretty tough things throughout my own childhood (like depression), and there were people in my life that helped me along the way. They spent time with me, listened to me, and simply cared about me. Most importantly, they were good women who allowed me to partake in their lives and be influenced in a positive way. Just inviting me to hang around them helped keep me going, and helped keep me out of trouble. Looking back I realize that these ladies were my mentors. They didn’t solve my problems, but they somehow made me feel like tomorrow was worth living for...just because they were THERE. I hope to have the opportunity to do that for other kids.
I considered signing up for the foster system, but it didn't seem like the right fit for Sean and me. Then an email came through one random afternoon asking for a donation to BBBS. I contributed, but then started searching the site for more information. It seemed like something I'd really enjoy - 1 to 2 hours per week of one-on-one time with your "little." They encourage free or low-cost activities, and even provide a free pass to the YMCA during the weekly visits.
Just one week following my orientation, I was matched with my "Little" - a 10 year old girl who lives less than 2 miles from my home. I was STOKED to be located so close because I knew it would allow easy access and more opportunities for us to spend time together.
The Getting-to-Know-You stage has been moving rather slowly. Most kids are skeptical at first, so it's to be expected. She doesn't say much at all and hasn't yet opened up to me, but I do think she's enjoying our activities. I suspect some of the silence is her trying to feel me out and figure out how to interact with me. The other part is being a 10 year old girl, going through the crucial tween phase under less-than-desirable circumstances. There's also been a slow down in communication since she and her mother went back to Chicago for 2 months. They returned home just this week (in time for the new school year) so our weekly visits will resume.
Over the next few weeks we'll be painting pottery, going to a Nashville Sounds baseball game and visiting the county fair. Things we've done in the past include: walks in the park, visiting the Parthenon at Nashville Centennial Park, drawing/crafting, making dinner together, watching movies, painting nails, and rollerskating. (And yes, that was scary.) She also taught me how to hula hoop!
For her sake, I do wish that she were a happier kid. It's hard watching her struggle with enjoying life. It's hard watching an innocent kit be jaded and bitter at such a young age. I wish that I could show her that life is a gift and it's beautiful even though there are hard times. I want to be silly with her, sing along to the radio while we drive, goof around and laugh together. Despite my trying, she hasn't let those walls down yet. Or, maybe that's just not who she is or who she wants to be. Regardless, it's not about what I want out of the experience...it's about what she needs. And even though it feels as if we aren't really connecting, I have to believe that our time spent together isn't a total waste. I hope that I'm helping her in some way, like the women in my life helped me.