This past weekend, my Big Brothers Big Sisters site-based mentoring group went on a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. The Bigs and Littles met up at the local junior high school and took a bus into the city. During the ride, I hung out with my Little and talked about her family’s holiday traditions. That got me thinking about how much (and how little) I know her after 3 months of the program.
I was matched with M. because we are both first generation Americans who moved to the US when we were pretty young. Other than that, we seem to have nothing in common. She’s loud and bossy and loves to be the center of attention. Her hand shoots into the air anytime someone says, “I need a volun-”
She’s incredibly physically affectionate, constantly chasing and playfully punching the other kids. When her best friend H. is around, they are a tornado of energy, rolling around on the ground laughing. She doesn’t really care for school, doesn’t have plans for college or any particular career goals. When I first met her, we did a “Get to Know You” questionnaire together and all her answers were “Me!” or “Food!” but nothing more specific. She doesn’t really like conventional exercise, but she loves physically active games with the other kids.
After our second meeting, I had a check-in with our program coordinator. I told her I was worried that I couldn’t connect with M. because we don’t have anything in common. I have a friend who is also a Big and her Little seems a lot more relatable to me: loves school and reading, pays attention in class, knows what college she wants to go to, is super shy. I not-so-secretly wondered why I didn’t get her as my Little. Maybe I over-sold myself as an extrovert during my interview?
But over time, I’ve learned to appreciate M. and her fun-loving personality. This mentorship match has been a two-way street. I think I’m learning as much (or more) from M. as she as learning from me. She does have interests other than herself and food, but she’s a kid, so she has trouble articulating what those are, particularly in response to direct questions. I have no experience with kids, so I have a hard time putting together the indirect clues. I only just figured out that she loves drawing. She particularly likes colorful patterns and fractals because she finds them calming.
Drawing as meditation – I totally get that!
Hopefully, over the next 5 months of the program, I’ll get to know M. better and help her tackle some of her trouble areas, schoolwork and behavior in class.
Signing off until New Years. Happy Holidays, all! -xoxo, A