12 years

January 20, 2010
“I love you Shelby!”

Those are the exact words that are spoken to me the instant I walk into the room every Sunday. Though they are 5 and I am 17, the age difference doesn’t seem to matter when we are all together having an amazing time.

I love you too!

5 years ago when I initially signed up for an amazing volunteering position to work with the infants every Sunday at my church, I never would have imagined I would still be continuing it weekly. The relationships that have grown from this experience make it entirely worthwhile.

The 12 years of age between them and me is nearly invisible when their small, warm bodies run to me for a hug; that moment alone is priceless, and is something I would never be able to give up, no matter how hard I tried.

Over the 5 years that I have been involved with this position, I have grown with them, from the time they entered this world, to now as they enter the realms of a kindergarten classroom. They have grown to look at me as someone who will always be there, and that is a position I will gladly take.

“When I get older I want to be just like you!”

Those words are something that I could have never guessed would happen. After being with the children weekly, I have come to be a role model to many, and that means more than anything to me. Friendships have grown between them and me, and those are amazing to me simply because of the age difference, but that doesn’t seem to matter when we are together.

From this weekly experience, I have also gained the delight in knowing them outside of just the classroom, and getting the opportunity to know their families, and getting that much closer to them. From watching movies, to going to get McDonalds as a treat, we have done it all, but one little girl have made a much larger impact on me than all the others.

Jane, who I have truly become friends with, makes the experience better in more ways than imaginable. Although she is only 5, we have found many similarities. She has helped me grow more as a person in the 5 years that I have had the joy of knowing her, and even to this day we continue to go on bike rides, watch movies, and so many more incredible adventures that can only be shared with her. That friendship is what caused me to realize that my life was changed forever. Growing a friendship with a girl 12 years younger than me truly amazes me, and has changed me forever. Jane had changed me.

Sure I may have only signed up for the position to get hours for school, but after all this time, it has become more than just that, it has become part of me that means everything to me. It defines who I am. I am meant to be with children, And that has clearly been proven to me.

“Every week when you come in, you are changing their lives,” is something I am told, but in all reality, they are changing mine.

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