Here is what she has challenged us to do:
What have you done in your life that was worth doing? I want to know the moments in your life that you hope will be the ones to pass through your mind when your time comes. ... I want to know all the moments, big and small, that make life sweet!I could be obvious and tell you all that my list consists of the births of my four children. Because what else could be more worth doing than to welcome a new life into the world. A new life that changes everything about you forever.
And so for a moment, let's BE obvious, and let's enjoy the current result of that labor (heh heh heh). Here they are (plus me, of course), from the Roo-girl's bat mitzvah last August:
Other than the obvious? Well, that required me to think a little harder.
In fact, I spent most of the week trying to figure it out.
There is stuff like this, for sure.
But that also seemed too easy.
So I picked a more difficult direction.
I picked J-bear.
J-bear, for those of you who are new to my planet, is Wonderhubby's daughter. She is 17 -- almost 18, in fact.
She also has lived exclusively with us since she was 13, when she was halfway through the eighth grade. Her choice. A decision made after an earthquake in the city where she lived with her mother fuh-reaked her out beyond all reason.
Now you have to understand about J-bear. She was -- in my unprofessional opinion -- clinically shy and monstrously introverted. The first time I saw her -- not MET her, mind you, but SAW her -- she was about 10 and hiding behind her father at a chorus function.
That position turned out to be commonplace. She couldn't look anyone in the eye -- not grownups, not kids. She reminded me of a frightened bunny, never really able to step too far away from the comforting aura of her dad.
Much of her story I am saving for May 14, her 18th birthday, for a proper post. But the things that I can tell you now are these:
When she first came to live with us, she was a frightened loner. Roo-girl, four years her junior, was really her only friend. In fact, she would follow Roo-girl to play with HER friends.
She would wear hoodie sweatshirts -- with the hood up around her head and her face pulled back into its recesses as far as it would go. It became a trademark look that made her highly recognizable on campus. Her father and I refused to buy sweatshirts with hoods at one point.
She was behind in her social skills. She was behind in her emotional growth. She was behind in her academics.
Before she came to live with us, I exacted a promise from her father AND from her mother -- that I would have their permission to do what I saw fit to help this child recover from the trauma of the earthquake AND get her on track socially, emotionally and academically.
I felt uniquely qualified to take J-bear on as a project since I had fought the school system successfully for a variety services for my two older boys and had some valuable experience and knowledge to offer.
I required therapy, which had not been offered to her to this point. I offered tutoring. In fact, that first summer before she started high school, I worked with her a minimum of three hours a night on her daily summer school homework. I took her shopping for her first bra. I, along with Wonderhubby, provided a noisy, family-filled environment where she had to learn to share her father and cope with four insta-siblings and the tumult that comes with.
Four years later, J-bear has turned into a lovely young lady, with friends, an upcoming high school diploma, reasonable grades, an almost-black belt in karate, a responsible job and the ability to walk into a room and -- while not completely comfortable -- fake it so that you might not see her fear.
She stands tall, my J-bear does. And I truly do believe that her father and I have done an amazing job of guiding the little scared bunny through some tough times and out the other side.
I stepped in as "the best thing that ever happened to that kid," according to friends who know and have seen. It was a mitzvah.
And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Now go see what others have done that make them proud.