Thursday, April 19, 2007

Debbie Auntie

About a week and a half ago my neighbor from Bombay came to me and said his daughter had to do a California Mission Project, could I help her? Of course. So she and I arranged a time to go to the library and we went and looked for books and info that she might use. I was going to be gone for the next few days with a funeral and then the Mexico trip, so I told her her "assignment" was to read through the books and write down information that she thought was interesting. When I got back the following Monday, I checked in to see how she was coming along. She had done one page (3/4 really) of writing and had misplaced the paper. It took about 10 minutes for her to find, but when she did, she had done a good job. I encouraged her to keep reading and writing things down and I would come back the next day to check again. She had taken moderate steps of progress but last night when I returned *(late from a meeting at 8:00) her parents had shifted gears from, "we'll let her do this one on her own" to "it's 8:00 and she still hasn't finished her other homework, she has to do more pages of writing and a report on Junipero Serra she hasn't even started!" So they too were learning about the California Mission of choice!

Oh how it took me back! Polyhedraville with Mr. M in 6th grade--late night at SM's house gluing together our mathematically/geometrically correct city, and my mom coming over with broccoli to serve as trees! Another late night for Mr. M doing my planet report, dad and me sitting on his bed looking for facts in the Encyclopedia (a 1980's version, I'm sure, thank God it was still accurate!) And countless projects where I would come to my mom and ask for help or ideas and she would say, "When is your project due?" My answer, almost without fail: "Tomorrow." =) It's a wonder more parents don't strangle their last-minute-project-making-paper-writing children!

Anyway, enough nostalgia and back to the story. So, I asked K if she wanted me to stay and help and she seemed to indicate yes. So I sat and helped dig out facts, work on a timeline with her mom searching for dates, and wrote the bibliography out as it should be (having done MORE than my fair share of those!) Due to my nostalgia, it was fairly comic, and it was nice to be able to help with something. At one point bita said, "Debbie auntie, would you like some water?" It was so sweet, both that she had deemed me "Debbie auntie" (and yes, I do know that is fairly normative in Indian culture, but still, it won me over!) and that she was caring enough to offer me water. We sat for awhile longer working on her project (her protests for sleep were beginning to kick in and she no longer cared about the extra credit portion about Junipero Serra). Her mom asked if I was tired, and I said "a little". She said I should go home and go to bed, and then she notified us that it was already 10:00! They had things under control and all that was left on the project was for K to rewrite the timeline in order and the bibliography (and the extra credit if she wanted to do it). So I decided to go. Grateful for bita and her caring heart, my new auntie title, and the nostalgia for late night school projects.

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