Wednesday, December 03, 2008

my girl is alright

Our seasonal program started this week same as every year. But it's my last time around the merry go round and as such I've promised myself to spend as much time there as possible soaking it in. It's my favorite week of the year, knowing we have a several hundred more spaces for people to come in from the cold and fill their bellies. For once, there is enough room at the inn.

M's been excited for weeks, she hears me talk about it and remembers her time there last year so in honor of it all I came home to collect her and we went back off into the night together to the big noisy shell of a room that we fill up with people all winter long. The first week is always a reunion of sorts, volunteers coming in with old towels and rain gear and other things they've collected and held onto till we are open for business. Then folks we haven't seen since last year file in like it was yesterday, some more ragged and some look the same and no matter what I'm smiling because it's not much but it's something and that matters a lot.

We got there when folks were still setting up and she immediately jumped in helping line up the sleeping mats. When she was done with that she moved on to making bedrolls with one of the staff, a process that with her intervention required extra patience and god bless him, he had plenty.

When she was done with that she sorted shampoo from soap and then helped the cook dish up late plates for people who aren't able to arrive till after dinner is over. Each person she worked with whether client or volunteer was so kind to her, they taught her the ropes and still made time to tease and play.

All along I'm watching her, regardless of my own comfort level I'm conscious of our surroundings and how things can turn on a dime but I also have faith in the goodness of people. Besides her being there is good for them too, not many kids come through here and for many of these folks human contact in general is in short supply. She's mixing with people of every color and age with one common denominator - each of these folks will call this makeshift project their home for awhile. And it's not lost on me that she's entirely happy here with people that most of us would struggle to look in the eye.

After a few hours she's done and it's time to go. We start saying goodbye and one of the guys asks us to wait. He guides her over to the middle of the enormous room and at the top of his lungs asks folks to listen.

Hey everybody listen up, this little girl here spent the last few hours taking care of us. She rolled blankets and sorted mats and helped with dinner and she's learning about giving back and we can all take a lesson from her so let's give it up for M and the room breaks out into applause.

She stands there looking at me with a shy smile on her face as the cheering dies down and a few folks come up and shake her hand or bump her little fist with theirs. I watch from the sidelines and I can't help but think this is one of the best moments of my life so far and she doesn't even know how amazing she is. I feel tears prick my eyes and she runs over and leaps in my arms and we walk out into the dark.

As we are driving home I tell her how proud I am of her. But I can't put into words exactly why because I realize in this moment she wouldn't understand anyways and if I make it a big deal then I'm the one calling it out. Because to her these folks are just like anyone else and she's just doing what comes naturally by lending a hand.


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35 comments:

TZT said...

She's beautiful and amazing. And what she reflects of you is beautiful and amazing too.

Little Monkies said...

What a beautiful example of the mutuality of respect. It's so real and palpable in this piece, Jen. Gorgeous girl, what a gift you've given her.

Gina said...

What a wonderful story. I'm all choked up.

Minnie said...

That brought me to tears.

How very proud you should be.

wheelsonthebus said...

hmmm. i wonder who raised her like this?

Gwen said...

little j, my heart just grew three sizes. you've got to be proud of *you*, too.

Defiantmuse said...

I was mentioning to G how giving and helpful I think M is. She was so gentle and sweet with Monkey and shared her stuff with her so well. I thought: she has your heart, Jen.

meno said...

That does it, i'm sending my daughter down to you.

Lara said...

goosebumps and tears, Jen. That's what this entry did to me. You've given M a gift with the way you've raised her. She's lucky to have you.

Magpie said...

You - what a great mom you are. What a great child you're raising.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Amazing. Amazing daughter. Even more amazing mommy.

Mayberry said...

I am crying over here -- what an amazing gift you gave her, he gave her, they gave her, she gave them ... wonderful.

mamatulip said...

I've said this before, but...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Shania said...

I read a LOT of stuff. Very rarely do I get teary (I'm a cynical old broad), but this? This is tear worthy. What a great thing to happen.

Anjali said...

So beautiful to know that the apple doesn't fall to far from the tree.

marymurtz said...

*sigh*
I love her.

Omaha Mama said...

I'm crying, really.

A book I'm reading (okay, The Bible) says that we need to become like children, if want to enter heaven. And I believe that with my entire being.

Great post.

Amy Y said...

She's better than alright... she's fucking amazing, that girl. And you too, for raising her that way.

Amy Y said...

She's better than alright... she's fucking amazing, that girl. And you too, for raising her that way.

KC said...

I've said it before: I can't wait to see what an amazing woman she becomes, Jen.

There's so much more to say.

Oh, The Joys said...

That is so good to read, Jen.

Christine said...

i'm standing up and cheering with everyone else!!!

she is so like her mama....

jess said...

Raising children: Ur doin it right!

I'm a lurker by habit, but I just found out (from Celeste) that you live in the same town as me. Woot!

alejna said...

Your girl is amazing. That's just so beautiful.

I want to figure out how I can get my kids involved in service at an early age.

deezee said...

imagining the moment of that speech...I well up.

carol at A Second Cup said...

What a wonderful and encouraging moment for your daughter. I am proud of her also and the mom who is raising such a kind child.

flutter said...

she is such a joy

tara @ kidz said...

What a special child! Amazing.

Amanda said...

I feel like you just let me slip into a moment in history. See, folks, there is magic in the every day.

Adore you and ache to meet that girl.

Angela said...

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful moment, little M. is one amazing little girl, just like her mother.

patches said...

People can learn by example....Great example, Jen.

Janet said...

The kids really are alright. :)

You're raising a special person there, you know?

Jerri Ann said...

You have ever right to be proud! Hold your head up high and come up with at least an excuse to help our daughter understand so she can too hold her head high!

And, while I"m here, I"m going to bow my head and mumble shamelessly. Will you consider going to my blogs and entering a contest to win prizes for 12 days, well 13 really and invite your readers to do so as well....*peeping out to see if you are throwing things at me for ruining my commnent*

I was serious though...proud is important.

painted maypole said...

oh, oh, oh! you are SO doing so many things right with her! how lucky you are to have each other!

Ally said...

Oh, she's alright for sure! I'm sitting here all blubbery now, thinking of the round of applause for M, and her wise Mama who didn't call it out any more than that on the way home. xoxo