July 25, 2008

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Summer baby-sitting lesson reaches heavenly realm

Debra Tomaselli“Forget it,” my daughter said, flopping onto the sofa. “Nobody wants my help.”

Her eyes swelled with tears.

For months, Sara, then 13, anticipated baby-sitting a “baby” during her summer break. The dream was persistent and unrelenting.

Sara didn’t care about earning money; she simply loved babies. But she needed to find one to watch.

She distributed flyers, but to no avail. Our church nursery didn’t need help, most of my contacts had outgrown infant stages, and day cares weren’t interested in volunteers younger than 18 years old.

I helped her search for a volunteer position, but when I found myself calling homeless shelters to see if they needed child-care assistance, I knew that I had lost my perspective.

After all, as determined as Sara was about caring for an infant, I didn’t really want to leave our daughter just anywhere. She, too, needed a safe and enriching environment in which to spend her time.

Discouraged, I wanted to give up, too.

But wanting what was best for my child—and realizing that she would be miserable if her dream didn’t materialize—I couldn’t surrender. I had to persist.

“Let’s pray,” I suggested. I reached out and held her hand.

“Dear Lord,” I began. “You know the desires of Sara’s heart. You know somebody out there would love to have help with a baby, and you know how Sara would like to help somebody. If it be your will, please connect us. If not, please help us find something else meaningful for her to do this summer. Amen.”

I leaned back in my chair. She smiled.

“It’s in God’s hands now,” I said.

A moment later, I glanced down at the Yellow Pages, flopped open on my lap. My gaze landed on a small boxed advertisment for Our Savior Day Care. I figured that I could make one last call.

That call led to a church nursery. The director met with us and, even though they didn’t typically use teen volunteers, she gave Sara a chance to assist in the infant room.

The setting ended up being perfect for her and for them. The director admitted that she wished they could pay Sara because she was so helpful. Sara said she would rather not get money since the ability to work with the infants was reward in itself.

Sara grew in confidence and independence that summer. She learned a lot about working with other adults, and about caring for babies. But the lesson extended far beyond child care. What she discovered through that experience reached into the heavenly realms.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Maitland, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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