I think some how I’ve moved into the child labour trade, although unlike those using children for labour I’m not even paying her. After helping me clean my old house for an afternoon, and doing an awesome job too, she refused to take the money I’d promised. She said she’d feel too guilty, and that she didn’t want to waste my money. Now I feel guilty, she helped me, she worked and now I’m not paying her. I couldn’t even trick her into taking the money, she was adamant she wasn’t taking it and I guess that’s to be commended.
Not many children would feel guilt over such a thing, and many wouldn’t label their wants as “wasteful”, but then again we’re not talking about any ordinary kid. This a kid who is so much more than ordinary, this is a kid who despite what life has thrown at her she still sees the good in the world and wants to help people. And I should be really clear, life has thrown her some pretty awful stuff.
A few weeks back we drove out to Orere Point, near the Hunua Ranges, and looked explored the rock pools. I’m not a great be fan of creepy crawlies, and neither is she, but regardless of this she endeavored to put every little fish and piece of sealife trapped outside of the rock pools and sea back into the water. It was a futile effort, never-ending, and complicated to achieve with two sticks and a fear of these sea creepy crawlies. She continued on nonetheless, putting over 40 little fish, crabs, starfish and other creatures back into the water. The locals on the beach, and boys drinking cheap beer in their cars certainly thought it was an interesting sight, but that didn’t stop her. She was legitimately concerned for these creatures stuck out of the water.
Similarly when we went to Omana regional park, she wanted to ensure the goats were well feed up on an assortment of foliage and greenery other than the grass immediately at their feet. So we went about collecting bits tree, vine and other grasses just outside the goats reach to provide them with a buffet or smorgasbord of delights. We’ll never know how truly grateful (or not) the goats actually were, but she believes they were smiling and that they seemed happier when we left.
Having turned 13 earlier in the week, I guess she’s no longer a kid but a teenager, she’s growing up and will soon be trying to make her mark on the world. The things deemed cool and acceptable will change, as will the important things in life and although my year with her is almost up, I still want to be a part of her life. I want to ensure that nobody ever takes away or destroys her amazing spirit. I want to ensure she gets to see and experience what the world has to offer, even if it’s the world in her own back yard of NZ. At 13 I had no interest in learning a musical instrument or playing sport, but at 28 I wish I had done, she would love nothing more than to learn the piano or play soccer but it’s just not a expense her family can afford.
I acquired through a friend some second hand shin guards, so she could at least play on the school team, the shin guards were a requirement her parents couldn’t afford. When I gave these to her, she was so excited she just almost screamed, we even used to take the ball out for kicks in park so get some “extra training” as she put it. Unfortunately I think there’s been another stumbling block in regards to the school soccer team, it doesn’t come up in conversation anymore, and she no longer wants to kick the ball around. I don’t want to pry too much as I know how hard it is to admit you can’t do something because of the expense.
The thought has crossed my mind to approach her school, and put in place a “scholarship” for her, and just for her, to ensure things like piano lessons and soccer are made possible right from the beginning and nobody ever needs to know it was me. I’m not too sure how this would work, it’s still just a thought. A thought that stems from the fact I’m just not sure I’ve done enough for her. She’s still painfully shy, she still hides (literally) from situations which are comfortable like catch up with our Brothers In Arms person who makes sure she’s still happy with things.
After a trip to Kelly Tarltons, she’s decided she wants to work there when she grows up, we both agree it would be a pretty cool place to work but would require special education and training. She’s still keen on the idea. It’s exciting to see her aim high, and see things as achievable, knowing there is no relevant reason as to why she can’t do something or be something she wants. I know this is a girl with a bucket load of potential, and it scares me that she may not get to demonstrate it and share it with the world. I’m scared the world may just mow over her, and the desire for more money in a struggling household may overrule education one day. I’m scared that peer pressure may get the better of her, I’m frightened overall that I haven’t done enough or that no amount of time would ever allow me to do enough.
Lets be honest teenage years are sometimes the hardest years and for some people they can really take their toll. These days not every teenage makes it through okay, some come out the other side of their teens with bad habits, stuck in a bad place or it seems nowadays some don’t make it out the other side at all, for numerous reasons.