Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Sprinkle Of

I miss Q quite a lot. She was the girl I tutored last semester. Toward the end of my time with her I found out that she was recommended for an accelerated program. I felt stupid for constantly working with her instead of helping some of the other children that may have needed me more. But as it turns out, many children learning at an accelerated pace could also be at risk because they are generally ignored and not given the encouragement to keep going. People assume that they don't need help. And so if nothing else, I know that I encouraged Q to achieve.

I grew attached to her and to many of the kids I worked with. It was hard to let go. We had a party on our last day and I intended to bring something healthy and not just the usual garbage kids get. I bought a ton of tangerines, but at the last minute I thought it was pretty lame. I tried to remember what it was that I looked forward to as a kid, and then it hit me: sprinkles.

Whenever my mom took me to Kaufman's Bakery, the ladies behind the counter would give me a cookie with sprinkles on it. They had all kinds: pink, chocolate, M&Ms, red white and blue, etc. It was just a no big deal butter cookie, but the sprinkles struck me as something special when I was little. So on the last day of tutoring I went over to Kaufman's and got a box filled with all kinds of sprinkled cookies and brought them over along with the tangerines.

It was an emotional day and I was teary before arriving. I knew I had to keep it together but the manager asked each tutor to write something special for the kids on an index card, and it was tough. I hadn't worked with some of the very little kids at all, so I wrote stuff like: "You have a great smile!" "You bring sunshine everywhere you go!" And for a couple of the teenagers I wrote: "I support you in fulfilling your dreams," and other cheesy stuff. I didn't know what to write and agonized over this for hours. Writing for Q and her siblings was saved for last.

I wrote Q something similar to what my favorite yoga instructor says at the end of class: "All the strength you need is already inside of you. Just call on it as you need."

Each child also wrote us little notes, and I will have to keep Q's in a special place. Her note said that just writing made her cry, and could she have a picture of us so she would remember me, and please don't go.

I'm dying to know what will happen to Q and her family, but I can't keep in touch unless the parents suggest it. I just recently found out that Q's family had to move again, and they went somewhere without an after school program. It's not so much that I want her to remember me or my contribution, I just want to know that she will be ok.

The sprinkle cookies were a big hit that day, as were the tangerines. Some of the kids had never had a tangerine, so that is a huge success for me. I was impressed by the gratitude over the treats brought in. And to think I nearly brought in only fruit! You've got to treat kids once in a while. Who knows if they ever get anything they want. I hope I made a difference and I hope the experience as well as the cookies made them happy. I wish Q all the success in the world.

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