What a whirlwind, challenging week this has been. Between the kids at the after school program, beginning a more rigorous schedule of physical activity, and continuing to learn about myself and this wonderful program known as the Young Adult Volunteers, I feel like I haven’t had time to breathe this week. But, I have made it to Saturday. I have no plans today other than being completely and totally lazy and I think it is a well-deserved break for the day. Maybe I’ll try to read a book…who knows?
How else to describe this past week but crazy? It started last Sunday when I visited a new church. I’m still in the “church shopping” process as I continue to settle in to Tucson and sometimes this involved stepping into some unique situations. Last Sunday I went to Vineyard City Church. Like the church I attended in college (shoutout to Vineyard Lexington!!!), Vineyard City is associated with the national Vineyard USA movement. The people there really are awesome. I felt welcomed and included even though when they had woken up that morning, none of them knew me from Adam. I loved the atmosphere and the people there but it made me miss my friends and church family back at Vineyard in Lexington…
Then came Monday. Mondays are rarely a favorite day of the week for anyone, but usually I don’t have any “beef” against the day. This past Monday, while it wasn’t bad, per se, it did open my eyes to the reality that exists beyond the after school program. One thing that happened was when I was working with a boy to help him finish his homework for the day. Things were going well (despite his childlike attention span and desire to chase down each new distraction) until we got to his reading homework. It was then that I realized two things. One: he could not read at his grade level. And two: I was going to have to help coach him through his reading homework. This broke my heart and terrified me at the same time. As a life-long reader, I realized how much I had taken this skill for granted. I also realized that Josh wasn’t able to experience the joy of reading a story, a joy that I have never thought about experiencing for myself. I also confronted the fact that I was (and still am) ill-prepared to teach him and help him through this assignment. Coming face-to-face with this reality jolted me on that Monday afternoon.
Then Tuesday came. I had woken up Tuesday morning still tired and stressed from Monday, but I was determined to make the day a good one. I had my first one-on-one meeting with Alison (these occur monthly and I will definitely be looking forward to the rest of them) and I really appreciated the conversation we shared. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, Tucson has the best site coordinator. And no, I’m not biased at all (#tucsonhousebesthouse). After that meeting I headed in to work. Most mornings are pretty quiet and we usually don’t get around to planning the day until after lunch. Things were going well…and then the kids arrived. For whatever reason, Tuesday decided to make the kids the craziest they had been for us thus far. Everyone was moving at a million miles an hour, there were just three adults trying to keep track of all the kids moving in different directions. We had planned out a science activity (making slime with borax, glue and water) and for whatever reason, despite testing out everything before hand, the slime was not working. Tuesday also presented us with our first “runner”. He escaped after I had told him he couldn’t do something. What followed was almost an hour of trying to track him down and bring him back inside…what a day.
The rest of the week actually went fairly smoothly after that. Wednesdays are when our helpers from the University of Arizona Public Health program come and help us out. The extra volunteers really help out a lot. If you’re reading this blog and want to extend a volunteering hand to the after school program, please do!! Working with those students has been awesome thus far and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn from them and their experiences. Thursday was actually the best day of the week. We didn’t have as many kids show up and I was able to get some one-on-one time with several kids who have posed some problems for us in these early days. It was awesome to get the chance to talk and interact with them on a more personal level. They really are great kids, they just don’t always want to show it. Childcare is a uniquely challenging field. Trying to keep kids entertained and busy while also trying to take care of them and make sure they’re doing something constructive…it’ll probably take me all year to figure out that particular puzzle. But figure it out I must. Fortunately for me (and for the kids) I am not alone. I have my team and Primavera. I have a community in my housemates that have provided a wonderful space to be vulnerable and to support me. I have a really really awesome site coordinator (some might say the best one in the YAV program…I won’t disagree). And I have a really really great group of kids…
And so we go.
Thank you, Creator God, for seemingly insurmountable challenges and the strength you give those who are in that season. And thank you for the Primavera After School Program.