Remember this post? Well, the story of my little go-getter continues! Here is the original post again, followed by an update:
“Would you be more comfortable if I left, or would you like me to stay here with you?” I asked.
A seemingly simple question, yet her pause and her nervous lip-biting betrayed her uncertainty. Her eyes scanned the room, searching for the correct answer, and settled back on me.
“Please stay. But don’t say anything. Just let me do the talking.”
I smiled at my daughter, put a casual arm across her shoulder, and gave her a gentle squeeze. I watched as she approached the man. He was the epitome of a book store manager: gray hair disheveled, a pencil perched precariously atop one ear, the lines on his face a perfect match for the wrinkles in his clothes. Perfectly attuned to his task of shelving books, he failed to notice the skinny girl in glasses who had approached him.
She turned to look at me. I gave a gentle nod of my head. She turned back and cleared her throat. “Excuse me?” she squeaked.
She waited for his full attention. I twirled a curl between the fingers of my left hand, my right hand tugging repetitively on my purse strap. What if he’s not a very nice man? What if he brushes her aside, ignoring her request, failing to find the time for a timid adolescent? Worse, what if he laughs at her? I loosened my grip on the purse and released the tendril of hair. I gripped both hands firmly together, determined to hide my worries.
“Hello. My name is Gabi and I love to read.” She held out one small, smooth hand, which disappeared into a grasp adorned with dark veins and prominent liver spots. “I know I am not old enough for a job yet, but I was wondering if you might need a volunteer to help out around your store?”
I exhaled. Her voice was confident and clear, just like she had practiced. Now I waited, eager for his response. He glanced over her shoulder and looked directly at me. He flashed me an understanding smile, and then turned back to the young go-getter.
“Well, Gabi, how old ARE you?” he asked.
“I’ll be 12 in about two months.”
I watched as he continued to conduct an impromptu, on-the-spot interview. I observed as she responded to each question:
“Where do you go to school? What are your favorite subjects? What’s your favorite book and why? Other than reading, what are your hobbies? ”
Satisfied with her answers, he requested her name and phone number for a possible upcoming project that would be a perfect fit for someone of her skills. She smiled, and her glasses slid to the tip of her nose as she orchestrated an almost-imperceptible bounce of joy. She pushed them back into place, handed him her information, and thanked him for his time.
His smile rivaled my own.
Dear Mr. Book Store Man,
Thank you for recognizing a teaching moment, and for making it a positive experience. Thank you for acknowledging a child’s passion, and for the care and appreciation with which you handled the situation. Thank you for treating my child with respect .
A Grateful Mother
Update: A few weeks after her foray into the book store, the tween received an email from the book store manager. Still a kind and supportive gentleman, he expressed his interest in rewarding her courage and professionalism by offering her a few hours of volunteer work in his store. She was thrilled that her efforts paid off! So, next week she will be sorting books, creating book displays, and making a go of it at her very first “job”! Wish her luck!