for the last year i have been mentoring an adolescent who is in foster care. we spend at least two hours a week together trying out new food, making crafts, or going on adventures. we volunteer at the animal shelter, go shopping, or visit the animals at petsmart.
while i love spending time with my mentee, i’ve also spent some time wondering if am helping her grow as much as she has helped me. her personal story is one of strength, resilience, and forgiveness. as a result, she as an individual has unknowingly fostered empathy, compassion, and a greater understanding of the foster-care system within me. despite all of the terrible things that have happened in her life, she has chosen to move forward, to let them go. and she is only 12.
what i’ve learned is that if she can forgive the atrocious things that have occurred in her life, then i can forgive the small incidents that have happened in mine.
because she is already quite smart, i don’t spend time tutoring her or helping her with homework. but because much of her childhood has been stolen, we talk about the boys she has crushes on, getting enough courage to try out for a sport next year, and go shopping for clothes. we visited a college campus and i explained what it was like to live in the dorms, how different the professors are, and how fun college can be. i want her to have a “normal” childhood. i want her to be a kid.
today was meaningful because my mentee and i took some time to appreciate the beautiful weather and went for a walk. we also went to panera bread for lunch and i helped her figure out and update her computer. we talked about simple things. we listened to music.
if you’ve ever been interested in becoming a mentor (to a child or older adult) then do it. you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
do not let time be an excuse.
i understand that we all have other commitments, but i promise that you can make the time.
and while you may seek out mentoring in hopes of changing a life, understand that it will also be your life that ends up changing.