Last year I was lucky enough to be able to have one of my old students, who I taught when she was an 8th grader, who is now in her early twenties, come and play with Georgia while I was at work. Kelli.....is an amazing girl. I loved her from the first day of school the year she was in 8th grade. She was in my homeroom and I also had her for history class.
Kelli will be the first one to tell you that she is not a lover of school. But that doesn't stop her from working hard to get it done, setting goals, and seeing it through to the finish--and that is the first thing I admire about her--her work ethic. She was also one of the most mature 8th graders I've ever had the pleasure of teaching. If you remember anything about middle school it's the giggling, the gossiping, the backstabbing, the catty friend triangles, the drama, the 'she said-she said,' the boys and who they like or don't, and that fine line you walked trying to be a grown up and flexing your independence but still wanting to slip back into elementary school mode filled with lots of reminders and the ability to let down your social guard for a second just to be yourself. Kelli was always good at being herself. And I'm sure--because she's a normal person like everybody else--she had her middle school moments--but she never let them define who she was; at least to the casual observer. She was poised, intentional, contemplative, serious, appropriate, polite, compassionate, and wise beyond her years.
I remember one time she asked me to hold her accountable when it came to being negative. She knew she had a tendency to slip down that hill very fast if she allowed herself to do it and didn't want it to be who she was. I loved that as an 8th grader she was able to recognize that about herself and had a desire to change it.
There was never one time last year when I wondered what was happening back at my house while I was at work, came home to find my house a wreck, worried that the rules I enforced wouldn't be enforced while I was gone, or that Kelli didn't have Georgia's best interest in mind. She took her to the library, on play-dates with another little girl and her mom that was a friend of Kelli's (and the sister of some other amazing former students of mine), to the children's museum, out to lunch, and to the botanical gardens here in Grand Rapids.
When I'd come home from work she'd usually hang around for a while and we'd catch up on life. Having her in my home on a regular basis was a gift, not only to me, but my daughter. Georgia always talks about Kelli.....and Travis.....Kelli's boyfriend who makes Georgia laugh and laugh.
Kelli's schedule changed this year and she's almost done with school and life is getting busier for her so it wouldn't work to have her here again with us for the new school year. It was sad. I'm slowly recovering.
Kelli will always hold a place in my heart. Not only as this amazing 8th grade student who I identified with so much on a personal level but because she poured herself into my daughter's life and became Georgia's friend. As a parent you desire to have other adults in your children's lives who they can look up to, respect, and want to be like--Kelli is one of those for Georgia. She even took Georgia out to dinner a few weeks ago with Travis and made her this amazing photo album of all of their memories from the year they spent together. She is the best.......the absolute best!
Thanks Kelli for easing this mama's days at work by letting her know that her baby was well taken care of, loved, and nurtured. And thanks for being just an all around, pretty amazing woman! It's hard to believe you were actually an 8th grader in my classes that I probably had to tell to stop talking once or twice!
Check out her blog!)