Sometimes a lunchmate mentor and a new lunchmate have to work hard to get to know one another. Shyness kicks in. Or, fear of what others may think becomes a barrier to true interaction. And sometimes it clicks immediately. Recently, I introduced a new PTM volunteer, Blaire, to a 4th grade PTM student named Grace*. I explained, “Ms. Blaire is going to eat with you today.” Her eyes lit up, “she is??” I explained that Blair will eat with her again next week and the next—that she would eat be a weekly lunchmate mentor. Grace then added, “and we can be best buddies?” She said it with such hope and excitement reminding me of how much our students long to have a “best buddy” (as we all do).
That very afternoon Grace’s grandmother came nervously into PTM’s office. She asked to speak to someone in charge, then shared that Grace’s mother had just been “locked up” and is facing a lot of “time”. She wanted advice on how to share that news with Grace. How does one share with a child that her mother is now in prison for a long time? I agreed to be praying for this grandmother and their family. The children will move in with the grandmother and life will change for them again.
I don’t understand all of the obstacles that many children at PTM face, but I am grateful that Grace has a “best buddy” who will help her feel loved and cared for and safe.
*not her real name