My mother has taken a 12 year old girl under her wing. This young girl comes from a very rough situation – 5 brothers and sisters, different dads, mom just got out of jail, dad is in jail, lives in single wide trailer with grandma, mom (now), brothers and sisters and the oldest sister’s boyfriend. My mother had previously become involved with this family because she is a do-gooder and they needed some do-gooding. She found/bought clothes for the younger ones, helped the grandma clean up the place when the kids were taken by child protective services, and befriended this 7th grader and her 4th grade sister and started helping them with their homework after school.
Well, after a year or so that all fell apart and she stopped because while my mother is a do-gooder she likes to do good her way and the girls were having trouble meeting her expectations. This isn’t surprising given their home life but unfortunate nonetheless.
While the younger girl didn’t seem to care all that much, the older one (the 7th grader) really craved some help/attention so she hooked back up with my mother at the start of this school year. Unfortunately the situation at home was so miserable she wasn’t able to keep up with her school work (for instance, her 18 year old sister who had taken on the role of mother in their mother’s absence would make M clean the house BEFORE she even could start her homework) so my mother offered to have her stay with them during the week. All parties agreed and so that is where M now is.
We’ve seen M twice now. The first time was about a month ago when she came up here with my mom to see my nieces’ in a play. M hit it off terrifically with my daughter and both my nieces and all girls had a great weekend. When my mother and her husband decided to come up last weekend to see my son’s barbershop chorus Christmas performance, they brought M.
M’s a darling girl and looks to be thriving. You can tell sometimes how she’s amazed at what goes on around here but she likes it too. On Saturday my daughter asked her what college she wants to go to and by her reaction you could tell no on has ever just assumed she’d go to college – heck from what I hear, it isn’t assumed she’ll graduate from high school (her older sister didn’t). She had no answer so Alana just forged ahead with “well, what high school are you going to then.”
She’s cooperative, appreciative (in a way my privileged children never will be) and a joy to be around.
My mother shared her Christmas list with me. She wants a Christmas Card and a new folder for school. There are more kid like items (a portable CD player for instance) but a Christmas Card? That kind of request just breaks my heart and I think it had the same reaction for Alana because after they left yesterday I found her holding the paper with M’s address on it and she looks up at me with tears in her eyes and said “she’s never gotten a Christmas card before.” I reassured Alana that we would take care of that this year and between all of us (grandma and aunt L) that M would indeed get lots of Christmas cards. We are including a Claire’s gift certificate and little erasers and goodies from the Japanese paper store.
No matter what else happens during the rest of this holiday season, I know we’ll get this one right. That makes me happy.