Monday, October 27, 2008

tutors & tutees

I grew up in a family with nine kids. (And yes, I realize this is an extremely cheesy picture...but bear with me because it illustrates my point.) I adored it. I loved being second oldest. I loved that there was always someone to hang out with. And I loved that most of the time there was a baby to hold.

Although I have extraordinary parents, there's no way two people could get to the needs of nine kids. It's just not humanly possible.

So, they instigated a plan. A serious plan. A plan of delegation.

The older kids were assigned to be the "tutors" of the younger kids who were the "tutees." Each month we older kids would be assigned to tutor a different tutee. We'd help them with their homework, sit by them and dish them up at dinner, help them tie their shoes, help them be quiet in church, etc.

Well, although Dave and I did try instigating this plan a few years ago in our family, I kind of forgot about it until one morning last week. I went in to check on the little girls at 6:45 before heading down to practice with Elle, and saw this:Now, this is actually not an unusual sight. It's actually pretty much the norm. These girls get up early each morning and talk. They figure out their outfits. They read. They get into deep discussions as they take turns going to the bathroom.
It made me think about how much these kids look out for each other.

Sure, they have their arguments...a lot of them. Certain kids get left out more than others. And they are dramatic beyond belief when they get in fights.

BUT, they can also be SO kind to each other.

I thought about how Max will be the first to jump up and get a drink for Lucy when she's begging.

I thought about how Max and Elle were both just as sweet as honey over their baby sister when she got hurt at a friend's house the other day. They both just sat there on the couch cuddling her with worried looks on their faces.

I thought about how all the older kids have "dibs" on who gets to help Lucy in the car or who gets to help tuck one of the little girls in bed.

I thought about how Grace dotes on Claire and tries to help her pick out matching outfits for them to wear all the time....or how Grace will teach Claire how to do an art project she did in school that day...and they'll post them up on their bedroom door.I thought about how Elle will wait while Grace moseys around in the mornings (boy it takes that girl a long time to get going in the morning) and will let her walk or ride her bike to school with her and her friends. (Especially since there was a time last year when she wouldn't have anything to do with her tag-along little sister.)I thought about how Max and Elle will read story after story to their little sisters.

What I realized when I saw these girls that morning (in the picture) is that unbeknownst to us, we have tutors and tutees. No, it's not some formal deal like I had growing up, it's just sort of happened.

And even though I want to be the one who's always doing the reading and nurturing, I couldn't be happier for my backup side-kicks. I'm so thankful they have each other...and that I have them.
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