|Their first match day. He was in Kindergarten, she was a freshman!|
I'm a middle child myself, though an odd one since I'm the only girl and there's a nine year gap between me and my older brother. I still recognize the difficulties of being the middle, though. You aren't given all the benefits of being older and more responsible, yet you aren't the cute little baby either.
When Henry was in Kindergarten I started wondering if there was something I could do to help his middle-ness. His after-school program was participating in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters site based program, meaning that there were a number of Bigs who came in to meet with the kids there at the center. I requested a match for Henry because he seemed to be really craving attention that was above and beyond what Ken and I could offer. This was one of the best decisions of my life. Hands down.
He was matched up with Emily that year and she started visiting him after-school. They hit it off immediately and he talked about her constantly. It got harder and harder to pick him up on days she was there, because he just didn't want to leave her!
The next year Emily came to us with a proposal. She wanted to be more involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Would we be willing to switch from a site-based match (where she could only see him at Second Home) to a community match (where she could see him outside Second Home)? We were in full support of this plan! And Henry was ecstatic. Emily could pick him up from school and take him to her apartment to watch movies. They could go to the Children's Museum. On snow days, they went sledding! He spent one day a week with her from after-school until dinner time. Sometimes he even stayed for dinner!
|Emily, Ethan, and Henry|
|Snow days with Ethan|
Beyond the requirements of her match, Emily has come to love my son like I never expected. She's introduced him to her boyfriend, now fiance, Ethan; as well as her actual little brother. They text each other on my phone when they are apart. I'm assuming by now that Emily knows that the messages full of emojis are actually from Henry and not me! He sends her the poop emoji because he says he thought it was chocolate ice cream (although he has confessed that he never really thought that, and just wanted to be funny!)
Henry is excited for his "Emily days" every week. He frequently dresses up on days when they will be getting together. As Emily nears graduation and marriage later this year, we've talked about the match coming to an end. We've both explained to Henry that she won't be able to pick him up after school next year. He knows she'll be moving away (thankfully not too far). Throughout this match, Emily has become a part of all our lives. I have flat out told her that graduating and moving or not, she can't get rid of us that easily.
|All dressed up!|
Emily, when you read this I hope you know what an important part of our son's life you have been and will continue to be. I cannot thank you enough for loving him and spending time with him. I'm not old enough to be your mom, or young enough to be your sister, but I am honored to be your friend and have you as part of our family.
|Little brother meets "little brother"|
If you have ever considered giving your time to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, I would strongly encourage you to do so. It is a great organization and it has changed our family for the better. I know that both Emily and Henry have grown in ways they didn't expect through this match. A match made in Heaven!