|Mahon, Stefanie. "Bible Camp One-on-One Fun." 2012. JPEG file.|
This cute little girl is 16 months old Paige Mahon. She is the youngest child of the photographer. The teenager is me. I was 17 years old when this picture was taken. It was taken on the last day of the week-long Vacation Bible Camp at my parish. VBC is offered by many parishes throughout the country, under varying names, and usually is for children ages 4-10. Because many of the adult volunteers have children under 4, like with Paige, we offer one-on-ones from the youth volunteers. The adult volunteers run the 5 different stations and the snack preparing area. The youth volunteers are group leaders, station assistants and one-on-ones. With my parish, drop off starts at 8:30 am and we start at 9 am and pick up starts at noon and is usually done around 12:30 pm. During that time frame, each of the four groups spends 30 minutes in four of the stations, two before snack and two after. Snack time is an hour long because we can only fit two groups at the tables at a time. Also, it keeps things from getting too chaotic. While two of the groups are having snack, the other two are outside at the fifth station: Games. If it's raining, they move inside and it's a little tough to have a semblance of order.
This particular year, 2012, I was requested by Mrs. Mahon for Paige because in 2011, when Paige was just 4 months old, I was her one-on-one to free up Mrs. Mahon's hands so she could take care of snacks, the area she is the volunteer for. That year, I had sprained my ankle and was on crutches. Seeing as I had to walk to work after, since my mom was working, I borrowed a spare wheelchair from a friend's aunt. Being in the wheelchair, there wasn't much that I could do in regards to the normal positions. Holding a baby and rocking her were things I could do. Mrs. Mahon had thought that there wouldn't possibly be a way for her to put Paige down long enough to do what she needed to without Paige being asleep. She is very much a "Momma's Girl" and did not like to be held by anyone else. But, when I held her, there weren't any issues at all. So, being so good with her the year before, Mrs. Mahon requested me for the adorable little girl in this picture. Being with her this much, I have formed a bond with her. And she a peculiar one with me.
I am someone who has always been good with kids. Growing up, I went to Kids Klub, an after school child care program. As I got older, the younger children became attached to me and started referring to me as "mommy". When I was at church, the children of the parish, different from the Kids Klub kids, would cling to me after mass and get upset when respective moms and dads said that it was time to go. It has gotten to the point where now, I can name almost every child of the parish. With Paige, things seem a bit different. My time with her didn't start out as only 10 minutes a week after Mass. It started with having her for 3 hours a day, 5 days in a row, and then babysitting her and her siblings and seeing her at Mass on a regular basis. My bond with her has grown so much that I refer to her as my daughter most of the time and her mother has said that I can take her whenever. Paige, however, has a different bond.
Paige will look at me, smile, and scream. This particular week of VBC started out with Paige screaming whenever I went near her because she didn't quite recognize me. I had just gotten contacts and needed to wear them that day for my appointment later to have them checked, making sure they fit, and I had just gotten my hair cut and styled. Needless to say, that caused some issues. She had started crawling and was learning to stand up. When she was given to me, if Mom didn't come back when she screamed, she would crawl over to her sisters. This was how the first two days were. Once she got used to me again, used to being with me every morning, it got easier. She came to me with no problem and would stay with me throughout the day, except when she needed to eat, be changed, or simply just wanted Mommy, the only word she could say at that point. On the Thursday, I we were given our shirts for Friday and I let her draw in it with fabric markers and she didn't have any "Mommy" episodes the rest of the day.
Now, as I mentioned and may have been noticed, Paige and I are wearing matching shirts. I also mentioned that this was taken the last day of VBC, Friday. At the beginning of the week, each parent is asked for shirt sizes for children and all volunteers are asked as well. This is because on Friday, a little showcase is held for parents to come and see what the kids had been learning and for the kids to show off their singing and respective motions for the songs they had been working on all week in the music station. To show unity, everyone that was there gets the same shirt, decorated a little differently depending on the year and the project that goes with it. This year, the kids colored iron-ons that went along with their group name and all volunteers decorated theirs with fabric markers brought in by one particular volunteer or they were left "blank", the only decoration being the small iron-on logo for this particular theme. I can't recall the name and title for it but it was based on a safari theme.
I have now been Paige's one-on-one for 3 years. This coming summer will make 4 years and Paige will be 3 years old in April. Last year, Paige was walking and has begun to figure out more words. Her favorite is "No" which she used almost the entire time last year, 2013. Our bond has grown and taking pictures with her have gone from in my arms with a tiny little smirk on her adorable face in the picture in the beginning to the full blown grin sitting on my lap from VBC 2013 in the following picture or me snapping a picture of her while she is saying "Noooooooooo!" in the picture after that.
These photos are decent representatives of who I am. I am a girl who adores children. All I have ever wanted to be is a teacher. I am a girl who loves to volunteer. Every chance I get, every spare moment, I am volunteering for one thing or another. From spending my Wednesday and Friday nights with Girl Scouts as an adult volunteer, to giving up my Saturdays and Sunday morning with retreats, Girl Scout Cookie Sales, and teaching a third grade religious education class, to volunteering with a non-profit organization, The Woonsocket Autism Benefit created by an autistic friend of mine. My life is all about helping children, helping others, teaching, and learning through my experiences. I'm not doing it so that it looks good on my resume, as many people have assumed and asked. I do it because I enjoy it and it is fulfilling, even if it does fill up my schedule. It is part of who I am, who I will always be
|Tracy, Kara. "Paige and the Crown" 2013. JPEG file.|
|Tracy, Kara. "I said NO!" 2013. JPEG file.|