Two weeks ago, over pizza, I asked a simple question, but it was one I hadn’t asked in years.
"Do you want to spend the night at my house soon? Would that be cool?"
My 11-year-old Little Sister could hardly contain her excitement. Deja's face lit up with a smile, and she clapped her hands. "Yes!" she exclaimed mid-bite. It was all she could talk about as we finished dinner and drove back to her house. Can we swim, she asked. Can we go to the movies? Can we go out to eat? Can we watch a movie at home? Can we play?
She was bursting with ideas—so many that I actually had to cut her short and explain that she was only spending one night. We wouldn't be able to do everything on her list.
Saturday, Deja and I had a good old-fashioned sleepover like the ones I had in middle school. I was excited, too. I got to take a break from my everyday grind—reporting, editing, attending evening meetings and running Chesterfield Patch—to paint my nails, make pizza and be silly.
There are lots of reasons I'm a Big Sister. I want to make a difference in my community. I believe it's my duty to help others when I'm able to. I love working with kids. I believe in the mission of the program. I know that mentors and role models make a difference in a kid's life.
But those are all the big, noble reasons.
Some days, I do it just because I get to be silly.
When we go to the zoo, she laughs as I mimic the penguins and encourage her to do it, too. We skip through the halls of the Galleria as we window shop. We share a package of M&Ms while we watch Cars 2—a movie I actually wanted to see, but couldn't persuade any of my 20-something friends to go to. A few weeks ago, I swung by her house and we chased bubbles in her front yard. I also tried to teach her to jump rope; turns out that's harder to explain than I thought.
Our time together is carefree and fun. And that's exactly what I need in my life. The best part is, I know it's fun for her too. Each time I see her, she has a huge smile. When we say goodbye, she always shouts "Call me!" as I walk out the door. Plus, I'm always greeted with a big hug.
And honestly, there's nothing better than a big hug from my Little, Deja.