Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Closets and Mentoring part one--The 5th grade girl

I have been getting tired of doing everything for Isabelle. Do I really need to hang her jacket and clothes up all the time? She is almost 4 years old. It is time to learn a new skill. The problem is her height. She can't reach the hooks at the back door or her clothes in her closet. Lucky for me I have a handy husband. So this weekend I harassed him until I had a new hook by the back door and a lower closet rod in Isabelle's bedroom.

First was the hook by the back door:

She was so thrilled to have something her size and couldn't wait to hang her jacket from it. I am sure the thrill will wear off for her but my thrill of being able to tell her to hang up her jacket when she tosses it on the floor next to me will likely never die.

The closet bar was next. I had wanted it to go all the way across the closet but we didn't have a bar long enough so I had to settle for a bar on the side:

My thought was to just put her dresses on it since she has entered the stage where she changes dresses 3 times a day. Isabelle's thought was that this was the greatest thing ever and she wanted every item of clothing she owns on the bar and is working on getting her dolls clothes there too. It is a little too crowded and now I think I will have to convince my hubby to put a bar across the other side as well. This will mean finding a new location for the luggage which is on the other side. I had suggested putting some shelves above her new lower bar but he didn't think we had shelving material hanging around the house like we do hooks and closet rods (what you don't have a couple closet rods in your basement?) I bet I can find something to turn into a shelf. I know we have plenty of brackets.


On to something a little deeper. I thought I would do a little series on the thoughts I am having on mentoring. Here is part one:

One of my earliest but probably most impactful memories I have of someone taking me under their wing occurred when I was in 4th grade (might have been younger but we will say 4th grade). My mentor was a much older and wiser 5th grader. I was at a classmates birthday party and she had invited a neighbor from a grade above us. I was immediately intimidated by her as I was by practically everyone at that time in my life. One of the gifts my friend got that day was a large poster sized coloring board which she opened up and we all began to help her color. I was never a good colorer, I knew this, my pages always looked sloppy when compared with everyone else. That day I colored with the others trying hard to be neat and stay in the lines as best I could. This wonderful 5th grade girl noticed that I was struggling and stopped, came over to me and suggested that if I colored all my strokes in the same direction it would look neater. OH! I had never noticed that about the prettier coloring pages. All in the same direction. It changed my life. I still think about that advice every time I am in front of a coloring page with my children.

But besides learning to color I learned alot from this wise 5th grade girl.

1. She was PATIENT with me. She didn't freak out when she noticed I was going to ruin the picture.

2. She BELIEVED in me. She believed I could do better and wanted to help me do so.

3. She TAUGHT me. She met me where I was at in coloring and showed me how to do better. While coloring in the same direction seems obvious she didn't assume I should know better but pointed out the obvious to me in a kind and gentle way.

4. She showed me KINDNESS. This was something I didn't get alot of during my awkward years at school and to receive it from someone so unexpected meant so much to me.

5. She DIDN'T make fun of me. That is what I would have expected from her. That is unfortunately part of the elementary girl experience for many and was the experience for me.

Unfortunately I had few other mentors in my life. My parents were wonderful and did their best and I did get through because of their love but I am sad that I can't think of any teacher who ever challenged me to do better or a parent of a friend who asked about my life or a church leader who challenged my faith. I am sure there were a few people here and there that encouraged me and validated me in brief passing moments during my childhood as this 5th grade girl did but none that have so significantly impacted me.


  1. Again, my dear daughter, you amaze and inspire me to be ever mindful of changing and maturing on my own journey. You always have been and continue to be an inspiration to me. You are a fabulous daughter, Mom and woman. Love, MOM

  2. First off, I love the closet idea...I need to see if my husband is handy!

    Second, what a beautiful post. It really made me think about people that have impacted my life. For you to remember a girl from 5th grade is just amazing!

    And third, your mom's comment got me a little teary....how sweet!