Mrs. Larson has participated in a service learning project for years. Once a week her class goes to the nursing home and the students are paired with an elderly "partner." They play bingo, or work on crafts or play other games for an hour. Our kids learn how to be of "service" to another who in most cases have less ability than our kids do. Sometimes the kids have to repeat directions that went unheard, or they need to get the big grip scissors for cutting, or they have to read to their partners.
The day the class was scheduled to take a tour of the nursing home, Colton heard they got to ride the bus. He reluctantly decided he'd tour the facility. Two rides later, and one candy bar secured in his hands, he came home and grabbed the permission slip. He'd give it a try. "But I don't want to hug anyone and Mrs. Larson said I don't have to."
It was a rocky start. His first partner, Evelit, slept most of the hour away, not giving Colton much of a chance to interact with her. He was less reluctant to keep going. But shortly thereafter he got a new partner. I knew it was going to be a better match when he said "her name is Molly, Molly b' Golly" and he broke into a little grin with just a hint of a nose crinkle.
They've been inseparable ever since. My month to volunteer is January and I got to go for the first time yesterday. By golly, I met Molly. She is soft spoken and can't hear very well. I tried to talk with her a little, but they were playing a mean game of bingo, and she and Colton were highly engrossed. Molly could cover her own numbers, but she couldn't always hear them. So she would look to Colton to tell her the numbers and help her look for them if she got behind. When Molly got a bingo, Colton clapped excitedly for her and happily took her card up and read her numbers. If the students won they got a little rubber duck. If the partners won, they got a dime.
The hour flew by. I asked for a quick photo as we were leaving. As I waited for the flash to go off on my camera, I missed the first photo op. Molly threw her arms around Colton, and without hesitating, he hugged her right back. She then slid her dime over to him and with a soft voice told him something. I turned around just in time to see the crinkle in his nose as he waved goodbye.