Kablam! I had recently retired from fifteen years as a nanny and was praying about what in the world to do with myself, when a small blurb in the church bulletin about a new mentoring program in Corbin city schools caught my attention. Yes! This was it! I was so excited I could barely control the gurgling joy within. I attended a meeting about it and then the training session. Hmmm. What was I getting myself into? As much as I wanted to be able to work one-on-one with a child who needed encouragement, the realities of some of the needs of these children discussed in the training session was a bit scary. Would I actually be able to make a difference, or would I be a big fat failure?
I first met B, a second grader, on an October day in 2018 . She was a cute little thing, but it was obvious she wasnot that thrilled with me. I had brought a little coloring sheet for her with a few questions for her to answer. No, she did not like reading at all (my favorite thing), her favorite color was black, and her favorite game was pie-in-the-face. Oh mercy! What was I going to do with her for an hour every Thursday morning?
The next time we met, B was slightly less annoyed to see me, but when I talked to her about doing a little reading every time I came, she gave me a look that could sour milk. I soldiered on, continuing to come every week, bringing a game, or a craft to do, as well as a book to read. She began to warm up to me and we started to have some fun. The day B asked if I would help her read
an Accelerated Reader with her and help her with the test was a memorable one. We each took turns reading and then she sat down at the computer in the classroom and found the test. At the end, she groaned and covered her face, waiting to see her score. When she saw five stars appear, her face lit up and she could not believe it! A perfect score!
As the months passed, we both looked forward to our time together. B would give me a big hug when she joined me in the media center and another when I had to leave. I let up on the reading a bit and did whatever she wanted to do. Playing on the playground and charades were some of our favorites. We made valentines that she gave to the principal and the janitor. Recently we made some Thanksgiving cards for the receptionist and the policeman assigned to the school. Then she wanted to make one for a surprise someone. I decided to do that also. We worked side by side, hiding our cards from each other until, glory be! We had made cards for each other! I had a sticker on the one I had made for her that said, “When you hug
someone, never be the first one to let go.” We hugged and I said, “Let’s count to three and let go at the same time.” We hugged so hard that when we let
go we both lost our balance and fell down! Hysterical laughter ensued.
The last time I saw B was right before Christmas break. I brought her a few small gifts and I read her the Little Golden Book Christmas story that I’ve read every Christmas Eve to my own daughters for decades. Suddenly she ran off to her room and came back holding a stuffed moose with a Christmas sweater on. I collect moose and I had talked to her about them several times, as well as dressing up as one for my Halloween visit with her. She had the biggest, proudest smile on her face when she gave that moose to me. She said, “I won this in a claw game. It took me five
dollars of my own money to get it for you!”
Right before Christmas, sadly B moved out of the Corbin school district. The only way we would be able to continue our meetings would be through Community-based mentoring, which required additional paperwork to be signed by the parent. It rained buckets in January and February, causing flooding that prevented meeting up with the parent. And then Covid-19 hit and that threw everything into turmoil. When I eventually called the mother’s phone, we had a nice chat about B and mentoring. I spoke to B for just a minute. I called back a few weeks later and we talked again.
One day I received a video call from B on Facebook Messenger, which I had no idea was a possibility. It was good to see her face when she held the phone still enough. That girl is not one for sitting around! She joined me on video while walking down the sidewalk, cleaning her room, and roller skating. It’s nice to have a way to communicate during this weird time, but it isn’t conducive to real connection. For that, we need one on one, face to face time. Hopefully, before long that will be possible again, and B and I will begin a new exciting phase of mentoring, as I pick her up and take her places to continue and grow our relationship.