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By Krista Martinelli
A few months ago a new family moved into our neighborhood, just a few doors down. We were blessed to have three terrific kids join our neighborhood – a 13-year-old girl, an 8-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. But today, for the sake of this story, I want to focus on the virtues of Katie, the 13-year-old. Some teenagers might be wrapped up in their own lives, phone calls or drama, but not this one. She embraced the younger kids in the neighborhood and immediately started interacting with them. I noticed that my job, as a mother, got easier on one of the first days that she gathered all of the littler kids in our neighborhood to do arts and crafts. There have been many craft projects and other activities since then, all coordinated by her. She listens to what each kid has to say and incorporates their ideas into whatever project they are working on.
These days when her car arrives home from school, the younger kids (including my 7 and 6 year olds) are watching and waiting for her. If all of her homework is done, she will begin playing with them right away. If she still has homework, she gives them an estimate of when she’ll be ready to play. The kids go through phases of what they are interested in and for a while, it was American Girl Dolls. They were into a phase of making clothing and accessories for their dolls. One day Katie announced, “I can teach you how to make wheelchairs for your American Girl Dolls…I just need some cardboard and some fabric.” It made me smile to see that every girl wanted to make a wheel chair right away for their doll, without a second thought. No one questioned this or asked, “Why would my doll be in a wheel chair?” So the craft project of the day was making a disability a “cool thing” among a bunch of young, impressionable minds. I loved this, as it might open their minds to be even more understanding when it comes to facing disabilities or interacting to other people with disabilities.
One of the next big projects was the rubber band bracelets made with the rainbow loom. If you have a young girl in your house, you probably know about this craze which is still going strong. In fact, my neighbor stood in line all day recently at Learning Express in Wellington (in a line of over 100 people) to get the rainbow looms and related rubber bands. Katie and her sister introduced the rubber band bracelet to the younger kids. “I can show you how to make this one,” she offered. She went on to show the kids how to make the rhombus, the raindrop and many other designs, using YouTube videos and hands-on demonstrations. The best thing of all is that she is always inclusive and never exclusive toward others. Everyone gets a turn at the loom, for example, from the youngest to the oldest. Even though I am in my 40’s as one of the older Moms on our block, somehow this 13-year-old girl has more patience than I do.
Katie and her sister are fond of making fun music videos, all with special effects and editing in the form of apps on Katie’s phone. They are well-versed in some basics of Internet safety, luckily, and never share their last name, school name or address in any of the videos that they post on their own YouTube channel. The kids have spent many afternoons starring in cute music videos, choreographed by Katie. This is possibly their favorite activity so far. And who doesn’t want to be a star? And then get to see the video re-played over and over again? Everyone who is hanging around gets a role in the video. Again, it’s always about including everyone, which, as a mother, I love to see.
So my kids’ ears perked up when Katie offered one day, “Did you know that I’m a Red Cross certified babysitter and I’m trained in CPR?” From that day forward, my kids began begging to have Katie as a babysitter. At first I was a bit concerned about a 13-year-old babysitter, but we decided that with her mother just 3 doors down, it would be safe. Katie knows our kids so well and engages them so well in activities, she would probably be better than any other babysitter they could possibly have. So on a recent Saturday night, we went out on a rare “date night.” The kids were over-the-top with excitement to have Katie as their babysitter.
She arrived with all the trimmings for a great and magical evening, Mary Poppins-style. “I brought popcorn for later. And I brought my own pajamas, so we can have a pajama party!” she said. “And I brought Orbeez.” She added, “Oh, and I brought Band-Aids, just in case.” By the way, bringing her own pajamas was an inspired idea, because it might be awkward otherwise – since they are used to playing together as friends. This way they would all be equal and all in their pajamas at the same time. She also brought her iPhone, of course, and consulted the kids on what kind of music video they wanted to make. My husband and I headed out the door without anyone complaining or even noticing that we were leaving. Our son and daughter were in good hands and happy to see us leave, so the party could begin!
In the middle of our dinner, I got a text from Katie. It was more than a text. It was a beginning of a music video that they had started to work on to one of my daughter’s favorite songs, “22” by Taylor Swift. Lots of crazy backwards and fast-motion special effects. Very cute indeed! And on the way home from the short plays that we saw, we received the finished video. It was nice knowing that the kids had a wonderful time and nice seeing what they were up to while we were away. Here’s the video (below). Thank you, Katie, for being such a wonderful girl! If all 13-year-olds were like you, the world would be a better place; there would be no bullying. And every kid would be listened to and every kid would be a star, starring in their own video to their favorite song!
Or just click on this link: http://youtu.be/yHQ29-Z9NtM
Hey Kids! Did you know that Mother’s Day is May 12th this year? How about breakfast in bed for your Mom? She would love it!
A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them. Victor Hugo
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