Our initial meeting included our match specialist, her mom, and grandmother. Wearing cowboy boots, jeans and a spunky attitude, my Little Sister answered questions easily. A scientist or race car driver is what she wanted to be. And her all-time favorite animal? A cat! Really? One criterion for matches is common interests. So I’d have to brush up on my science skills and learn the Who’s Who in auto racing. But as far as cats go, I have always been and still am… allergic to them!
From my journal: April 1, 2018, Thousand Oaks, California
“Going to the Camarillo Library for our 1st outing…can’t wait to share my love of books with her!”
Picking up my Little Sister after school, she asked where we were going. I said we had time to visit two places and both were a surprise. She buckled up and ten minutes later we parked in front of the library.
Once inside, we headed for the kids section. I asked her what types of books she liked and that’s when my heart sank. Reading wasn’t her thing, she said. Still, I helped her get a library card that day. Before heading home, we dropped by Sweet Frog’s. Frozen yogurt always brings about a smile and is something we could both enjoy.
While rewarding, mentoring isn’t always easy. Trust was our first challenge. Showing up when I said I would was new ground for my Little Sister. My trust issues however, concerned her safety. Standing side by side in a line once, I took my eyes off her for just a second. When I turned around, a burly man had his arm around her shoulders. Without thinking, I grabbed her to me. Bewildered they looked at me for an explanation. Although they knew each other from church, I didn’t know that. Since then, I’ve learned to ease up a little.
Compromising and trying new things are part of the package, too. I’ve now slid down a playground chute backwards! She has tried my homemade apple chips, (even though she pooh-poohed them)! Throughout all of this, we’ve discovered we do like some of the same things. Singing country music along with The Highway station in my car is one. And our love for hiking is another. Simply being together side by side on trails works wonders. Something about the rhythm of our steps allows words and feelings to flow freely.
While I was worried about our age difference, this has turned into some teachable moments. I’ve taught her how to write a letter (yes, stamp and all!) and make scratch art. She has shown me how to create an emoji of myself and that bare toes in the sand at the beach really do feel great.
There are many ways to bring positive changes into our world. It matters how we choose to spend our time. And it matters who we spend that time with. For me, mentoring this girl, my Little Sister, allows me to share what I’ve learned in my life and to nurture her along her path. Perhaps, one day, she’ll be that person who takes those steps alongside someone else.