Neighbor Girl Update

I’ve been spending lots of time with my Neighbor Girl lately.  She comes and goes when she wants..not knocking and coming in like it’s her home.  I am okay with that and Hubby is too….but it had gotten me to change a few things… I had gotten lax on closing the bathroom door or bedroom door if I was home alone, but not anymore.  I never know when she is going to show up.  I never really know what triggers her comings and goings.  Sometimes she will be here several days in a row and then the next few days I don’t see her much at all.  Lately, though, she spends more and more time here.  In fact, she’s even started staying overnight here.  She has a bed here that’s “her’s” and dresser drawer too.  Regularly mom’s work hours and the older sister’s work hours don’t coincide so she had nowhere to go.  She’s welcome whenever she wants or is needed.  If I’m going somewhere, I always give her the option to come with.  If I’m not going to be around, and I wasn’t able to get in touch with her before I left, I leave a note on the door for her to let her know where I am.

A couple weeks ago we had some super stormy weather and she has access to a phone now so she will contact me and tell me she’s scared.  It’s hard.  I take responsibility seriously and these calls are hard on me.

Yesterday was the last day of school so I am curious what will happen with her time here.  In fact, a few things are up in the air with her.  Cousins of her’s recently were taken from their mom and DHS was involved.  Thoughts are that they might be moving in to her house.  I’m not sure how I feel about that as I expect one of the cousins will be here all the time too.  It’s a boy and he’s younger.  Like I said, lots of things are up in the air…and honestly, I sometimes question how much I can do and where me place is in all of this.

Earlier this week Neighbor Girl went with me to a dance recital for on of my childcare kids.  It was fun having her tag along.  Kelli met us there.  After about the fourth performance of the dancers, Neighbor Girl leaned over and said to me, “I wish I was skinny and I wish I was in dance.”  Ah…the body image problems hit so young.  Then I thought UGH…I can’t do anything about either thing.

For us, dance is out of town.  Lessons are weekly and then there is one recital that requires an expensive costume.  I don’t think  lessons are cheap but there are so many advantages if she could go….1-it would lead her into a group of kids that might be a better influence on her…2-it might help with the body image…3-it would be a good thing to learn and experience.

Anyway…back to our night. After the recital we went to the Chinese restaurant.  Neighbor Girl wasn’t excited about that but then she realized that she thought she liked Orange Chicken as they served that as a school lunch.  She ordered it and then refused to even take a bite.

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She’s super picky about smells and looks…and honestly, few Chinese dishes look scrumptious.

Kelli was really upset because Neighbor Girl didn’t eat and Kelli had chosen the restaurant.  Me, I wasn’t.  If she was hungry she would have ate.  I also was glad that we gave her an experience be it a good experience or a bad one.  It’s good so that someday if someone says, “Hey, do you want to go out for Chinese?”.  She will know her answer…which will likely be NO!  Kelli and I did forgo our fortune cookies so she at least ate three fortune cookies for supper.

While we were chatting we started talking about the end of this school year and the beginning of the next one.  Here, fifth grade means band starts.  It’s optional but the majority of the kids typically try an instrument.  She told us that she was excited about that and hoped she might be able to play saxophone, clarinet or trumpet.  Me, knowing instruments are expensive, asked if they had one at home.  She said no- but they are only $20-$30.  I told her that was $20-$30 a month!  She got a sad look on her face and said well I guess I can’t do that either.

That left Kelli and I both sad too.

After we got home I started to talk to Hubby about it.  He’s game for whatever I want to commit too because (to be honest) he’s fallen for her too.  So the brain storming began….That’s when an idea hit me.  I’m hoping that one of you might have a saxophone, clarinet or trumpet sitting in a closet waiting for a new little girl to love.  I know so often kids start out excited wanting to play an instrument and then forget about the instrument so they sit and sit.  Do one of you have an instrument that is no longer loved-just catching dust?  I’d happily pay $50 and the postage to get it here to her…I don’t want to risk the big dollars for a new instrument in case she ends up not loving it.  I’d really like to get an instrument and have so that she doesn’t go through the stress of not feeling included when other kids start getting their instruments.  She really wasn’t picky about which instrument she wanted…a saxophone, clarinet or trumpet would be awesome!

As far as dance goes…I am going to do some investigation checking prices and locations then make a decision to see if I want to make the commitment to pay and to transport her there.  It’s so hard for me to know my place..one moment she’s here all the time and I’m more like a mom to her and the next minute the plug is pulled and I’m brutally remind that I’m the neighbor.  I just never know what day it’s going to be which role or when it’s going to switch.  The more it happens, the more I am adjusting to it.  At first I was really hurt and I’d wonder if she was coming back.  Now I know she always comes back.  I just know now that there will always be a down behind the up…I really am getting better at it.

If you do have an instrument you are will to part with, please contact me at rogjok@iowatelecom.net.  I’d sure appreciate the help in making a little girl happy.

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24 thoughts on “Neighbor Girl Update

  1. Robby

    You might check with the school. Sometimes they have music drives to rescue no longer used instruments. Also, Craig’s list. I suspect this won’t be too hard to get. Thanks for investing your time and network for her.

  2. Sandie

    Jo- I don’t have any of the instruments you asked after, but another Avenue to explore could be the local CraigsList or Facebook swap/flea market groups in your area. I’ve had many people tell me they’ve found things that were like new, for free. If you do get her any of the instruments you mentioned, I would suggest buying (or having her buy/earn) , a new mouthpiece for hygienic reasons. Good luck!

  3. Debbie Harmon

    I bought a clarinet for my daughter when she was in school and besides the cost of the clarinet I had to take it to an instrument busness and have it cleaned. Used instruments are not sanitary, especially woodwinds with kids blowing thru them. The cleaning cost me over $100.00, and then you have to buy reeds.

  4. Robin

    I don’t have any of those instruments but I am going to do my best to find one. The kindness and love you give your neighbor girl will never be forgotten by her. How do I know? I was once that neighbor girl.

  5. Donna

    Jo I don’t have an instrument but if you find one reasonably priced I would be willing to contribute to helping you buy one. Maybe some of your other blog readers would too. If ten people gave $20 or 20 people gave $10 that would be $200 towards one and getting it cleaned. Have neighbor girl do some chores for you to earn the instrument. She will appreciate it more and it won’t condition to think everything will be given to her. That’s my suggestion. You are being such a good life coach to her. BUt hearing how good your kids are I’m not surprised.

  6. Miriam P.

    Please keep us posted especially about dance class. There are probably several people (including me) that could help make that happen.

  7. CindyD

    I was going to point out that with clarinets you are continually buying reeds. I don’t know about saxophones but someone will.

  8. Jean

    May I suggest that she try instruments with the band leader, as she will need one that fits her mouth, and see if the school has the instrument she can play, before you buy one. Yes, all saxophones use reeds.

  9. Carolyn

    My neighbors had a 6th grader last year who wanted to be in Band. They spent several hundred dollars they didn’t have for a new clarinet and within 3 weeks she had “lost” it. That mother spent a couple of days at school looking for it and yes, they finally found where the child had put in the school building….so she wouldn’t have to practice. You probably need to discuss this with mother because she will be practicing there or at your house.

  10. Susie Q

    I find myself saying go slow Jo….. do think if either goes forward a talk with neighbor girl and her mom would be good. To see what everyone’s expectations are and what responsibilities are involved…and verbalized. And if the house is going to be adding more folks, etc. All of this changes the dynamics, but you know all that. Glad there is summer here to give some time for things ……..

  11. Jen

    Where I live, I pay $50.00 a month for dance. That’s an hour each week. I *think* I am probably at one of the cheaper studios. I believe it’s easier to learn the younger you start. Maybe I’m wrong…that’s just my impression.
    The band sounds better and I agree, us readers would probably pitch in buying an instrument. Maybe rental is the way to go, though, until she knows for sure she’s going to stick with it.

  12. Jo Post author

    GOOD NEWS all…We found a saxophone. One of my old childcare families have a saxophone and we are borrowing it. People made comments about the cost of reeds..the cost to have it cleaned and the like. I knew all of that in advance.
    I had a two kids that played saxophone at one point. The cost does not bother me at all. Those incidental costs are well worth the smile she has on her face!! If she ends up not liking it, she can quit and return the saxophone. It’s a perfect arrangement.

  13. Paula

    I’m glad you found a saxophone! My son left one under his bed when he moved out, but it is a very large tenor sax. However, you are welcome to it if you ever need it.

  14. Wendy

    Both my kids did band and it is such a great experience and great group of kids.

    Glad you found a saxophone. I’m in Canada – but our schools have loaner instruments for some of the kids. My daughter was able to borrow a clarinet and flute over the summer to decide which one she wanted to play in the band.

  15. Ashley

    Check out shopgoodwill.com they frequently have instruments very cheaply priced. You could probably score one for under $30

  16. Valerie Chapman-Stockwell

    Your gifts of time and caring for this young girl are priceless beyond measure. God Bless You and your family.

  17. Jeneta@PlumJam

    Yay! So glad you found a saxaphone. I’m thrilled that you have taken this beautiful girl under your wing. It will truly be life changing for her. xxx

  18. Janet

    Marching band saved my son’s life. He was bullied in middle school to the point of needing therapy to survive. When he got to high school he joined band at our urging and it was like a light bulb went on and he flourished. He wanted drumline but you needed to earn those spots. So he was in percussion pit freshman year and worked hard to earn his place on drumline. He’s graduating high school this year and I’m so sad he won’t be in band. It was such a rewarding experience. It teaches so much more than music. It teaches you to be part of a team, how to show up on time, be responsible for your performance, to work hard to better yourself, to not let people down and it builds self-esteem. What a run though, our band is 13 time State champions and we marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade this past Thanksgiving. What a way to graduate! I hope she loves it. When she thinks she doesn’t want to do it anymore, push the issue to keep her in. It’s so worth it.

  19. Josie McRazie

    I don’t have a sax or clarinet, however if she is interested in the flute I do have one I would let go on the cheaps!!! I’m in the Quad Cities. Keep me in mind if that’s an option!! Also I do agree with one other commentor who said they often have loaners for instruments! It can’t hurt to ask!

  20. Roxie

    Jo – check with the dance studio – many times they have memorial funds & endowments that will allow those not able to afford the full tuition. Its worth a shot. I know my granddaughters are in dance in the Mpls area & they have a large fundraising show every year to build that tuition assistance endowment that was left to the studio. I gives the students a chance to perform outside of the recital & I believe they also do some fun silent auction baskets. If the local studio does not, maybe this would put the bug in the ear to start this program. Good Luck & neighbor girl is pretty lucky to have such a caring family to support her.

  21. bonnie

    you might also check local pawn shops as many times people will pawn their instruments. Also check with the local dance studios, as sometimes they have scholarships available for hardship students. It is a wonderful thing you are doing with this little girl… I was a child like her many years ago… my parents divorced and we lived with our dad never getting to see our mom… there was a wonderful lady who lived in the next block, she has three sons so she was delighted to take on a little girl.. she taught me the things a mother would teach her daughter. She took me many places over the years and became a trusted friend.

  22. Cindy in NC

    Consider contacting Neighbor Girl’s school. Speak to the school counselor if there is one. If not, the principal or assistant principal. They will not be able to give you any information about her, but they may know of resources to help you help her. It will also be useful (and probably a huge relief) for them to know the important role you have taken on in her life.

    I know you have mentioned having Neighbor Girl do chores in exchange for some of the things you are providing, and I applaud you for taking this approach. The school system I used to work for provided low income students with so many things (many of which were not necessities) that it could be hard to motivate them to work in the classroom. Sadly, they quickly became used to having everything handed to them. I’m sure most of us would under similar circumstances.

    Bless you, Jo, for taking such a healthy interest in Neighbor Girl. I’m sure you’ve inspired others to follow in your footsteps.

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