This essay first appeared on my site at donnajostone.com. Still gives me that little heart squeeze.
Lessons That Matter
My highschooler comes home from her new part time job, Tuesday through Thursday, at lunchtime. The chatter is non-stop for a while. I love to watch her as she talks.
She works as a pair of extra hands at a private school.
A helper was needed for two special needs kids, teenagers. When the job posting came up, I thought it might be of interest to her. Patience with certain children is one of her attributes, and she is not scared of different. I asked her if she was interested and she said yes.
Our homeschool schedule had to be adjusted, but that is fine. We can well afford to be flexible with the hours.
Important lessons take precedence, and some things need to be experienced.
I felt this would be an excellent opportunity for her.
After the first week she says to me, “I’m really surprised by how much I like it.”
“I knew you would.”
I am too smug. She wrinkles her nose at me, then rolls her eyes. I pretend to be affronted, and defend myself.
“Well,” I say, hands on hips and trying not to grin,“at least I didn’t say, ‘Told you so.’ ”
This earns me a skeptical sideways glance and a lifted eyebrow.
“OK,” I admit. “It’s kind of the same thing.”
“Kind of exactly.”
Over the following days I learn that The Wiggles and Minions are her students’ favorites, about words missed and corrected, and many other things.
I listen to it all.
We are in my room after she gets home one day and conversation goes as usual. She pauses for breath, hesitating.
“Do I talk about my kids too much?”
I shake my head no. “I want to hear,” I tell her.
She smiles and speaks of how much her boy student likes to color all the pictures in, not just the right number to get the answer, of gentle tugs on her sleeve and sweet laughter finally earned. She isn’t looking at me as she describes the laughter. There is a particular light in her eyes.
When she still rested in the womb I placed my palms on my naked, swollen belly. With fingers splayed out across the roundness, I wept and promised her she could be who she was, not knowing what future would come.
Here it is. I watch an unfolding woman’s soul begin to enter into being.
“My kids,” she said.
Just when I thought she couldn’t get any more beautiful.
Working at the school helped my girl decide what she wanted to do with her life. She is currently pursuing a degree in Occupational Therapy and wants to work with children. When time allows she volunteers at a church that has a program for special needs kids. Occasionally, she is blessed to be able to see her “first kids”.