I’ve missed my not-so-little niece this week. She’s a ten year old girl of beauty, thoughtfulness, sensitivity and wonder. For the last six weeks I’ve been tutoring her once a week in English and Maths to help prepare her for her year 6 SATs which she’ll be taking in May and it’s only through her absence this week that I’ve realised how much value she brings to my week and how much I enjoy spending the time with her. It’s proving to be truly invaluable for the both of us.
She’s currently away at camp on a school residential for the week and although it’s pretty much been raining non-stop, I know she will have had a great time away being all adventurous and feeling all grown-up, away from home with all her friends for a week.
I’m looking forward to the phone call I’ll get later from a muddy, tired little girl excitedly telling me about all the things she’s done and achieved throughout the week. Because I know she will have. She will have pushed herself, stepped outside her comfort zone, done things she never thought she would have and be feeling a true sense of achievement and pride in the midst of the tired exhaustion. I know that because I know her and I’ve seen her grow so much in confidence even in the last few weeks.
She’s a quiet, completative, sensitive girl who, like me, hasn’t been the most confident of people. She’ll quietly sit and listen and take things on board before speaking. She’ll appear to not be listening to a converstion in the room and then a little while later contribute something seemingly flippant but ultimately profound relating to it. She’s impressive to me.
I’ve been tutoring her since school began in September. I do the school run and pick her up from school each week and we generally go to the local Wetherspoons and study over a hot chocolate and sometimes have tea together. She’s loving it and so am I. Her perception is she has been finding some things in English and Maths at school a bit tricky and needs some help to get better. My perception is she’s better than she thinks she is and while there are some things I can teach her, the underlying need from me is to build her confidence, teach her how to believe in herself and show her that she is both capable and able. I know because I’ve been there. While I didn’t struggle at school, I have certainly struggled at times to believe in myself and it’s taken people who love me and who care to come up along side me and help me realise what I really am capable of and what’s inside me.
We do maths. We do spellings. We do writing. We do grammar. We do reading. We do talking. We do laughing. We do fun. And it’s working. When there’s been a week we haven’t been able to do our usual day, she hasn’t wanted to skip it, she’s rearranged the day and written me little notes in my diary so I remember. Before my eyes she’s blossoming and very little of it really is to do with me. She’s gaining confidence and realising she can do things and in that is much more willing to give things a go. She’s won the class cup, she’s achieved a hat trick of ‘Homework of the Week’ awards and is learning about herself, whether she realises or not.
In addition to all that, she brings light and joy and laughter to my week and it’s precious time to be spending with her. I remember cradling her in my arms as a newborn, rocking her to sleep when she cried and running around after her when she was a toddler and it’s all created a special bond. Of late, I’ve realised just how much she’s growing up and it’s scary and bewildering and wonderful and exciting all at the same time.
So in the midst of all she brings, I’ve missed her this week. And will miss her again next week. But that’s my own fault. It’s half term and she wanted a tutor session but I’m away. So we’ll reconvene the week after and who knows what will happen and the ground we’ll cover in the coming weeks. Watch this space!