|SLICE OF LIFE is hosted by Two Writing Teachers|
I stood in the vestibule waiting with the afternoon kindergarten students who were waiting to board the bus. She walked through with her mother, the preschool teacher. As they breezed past, I couldn’t help but get caught in a snippet of their conversation.
“Do I really have to go with you?” she whined in her tiny second grade voice.
“Ashley, you know what my answer is going to be,” her mother asserted.
“But can’t I just stay home with the boys?” she pleaded in desperation.
“The boys are not old enough to watch you. It will be late at night. You are all going to have to come with like usual.”
I smiled, enjoying the cuteness of her whining even if it was an ordinary irritant for her mother.
I caught her mother’s eye over her head. She saw me smiling and looked at me like I was crazy. “You wouldn’t happen to be interested in babysitting would you?” she asked me.
I was a senior in high school doing an internship in a local elementary school’s kindergarten classroom. “I would love to!” I answered.
“You wouldn’t happen to be free this evening, would you?” Her voice sounded as if she expected to be disappointed by my response.
“Actually, I am. What time?”
That moment, that snippet of overheard conversation in the vestibule was the beginning of a life-changing relationship. I babysat Ashley and her brothers regularly for the rest of my senior year. After graduation, I even decided to forgo staying in a dorm two hours away from home in favor of remaining close to Ashley and her family. I stayed home and commuted to classes at the Chicago campus of my college.
Ashley is no longer that whiny 2nd grader I met so many years ago. She is a nurse. With a boyfriend. And an apartment. Although she is no longer that 2nd grader who drew me pictures and counted on me, I know that younger Ashley is still a part of her, the way she will always be part of me.