Monday, February 18, 2008

A Little Update

I seem to be finally getting through to Jenny, my Little, albeit with perhaps more intensity than I had anticipated.

Our contacts until a few weeks ago have been strictly face to face, within the structured group setting of the Big Brother Big Sister programme. Our meetings have been getting easier as she has started to open up a little more, even if it is mainly to share with me her hatred of school ... I guess some things are universal.

I found out a month or so ago that it is suggested that we call our Littles the day before our meetings but I shamefully admit that I never have. I am not really a phone person and the prospect of a conversation filled with long silences filled me with dread. I'm not proud of my cowardliness but I assumed she was fine with this too as talking is clearly not her strong point ...

But when I saw her after the Christmas break, she gave me her email address. "Great", I thought, "I can do emails, I'm good at that!". After all, this is how I have maintained significant friendships across the pond for almost a year now. She has since emailed me almost every single day and we have chatted online many, many times.

That would be OK ... but she makes me feel guilty and is clearly disappointed when I tell her that I'm not at home every night to talk to her online. I think she understands that I have a life of my own, but at the same time, she has no concept of it as she is only 11 years old. I really want to be there for her, but if this was a romantic relationship, she would be the co-dependent turning me into the commitment-phobe ...
I talked to Jessica, the social worker on the programme, about it and have since established some boundaries and limited online chatting to a couple of times a week. She told me how much Jenny's self-confidence has improved since the start of the programme (something I have noticed too) and told me it was due to the relationship we have established. I never really thought I would make an impact ... I am equally happy and astonished that I am, in some small way.

I am enjoying our unlikely friendship. Jenny is Chinese and her mum insisted on giving me money in a red envelope for Chinese New Year, as well as some sweets. I had to accept (despite the rules of the programme preventing us from usually accepting presents) as I was very touched that she & her family thought I was part enough of her life to share in their celebrations with me.

I am even happily getting back in touch with my long lost inner child, playing hide and seek in Disney's virtual world with Jenny ... And yes, I have checked with Jessica and this will not cause me to get arrested by the State of New York! I wouldn't really want to be writing my next post from prison ...