This story is dedicated to an amazing woman named Beverly who works at Michael’s Craft Store in Oceanside, NY. A woman I don’t know but who went the extra mile to help me. What she doesn’t know is how much she helped me to get what I needed to help my child face down her anxiety and feel the confidence she needed to excel in a world that is sometimes crushing for a 9-year-old with or without special needs.
These are tough times for everyone…. including me. The proverbial grind is getting harder and harder for us all for so many reasons. I’ve got 3 children, 2 with diagnosed special needs and one with budding special needs. I do everything I can not just to keep up but to go that extra mile — or sometimes just that extra tiny-little baby step — to make the difference in my children’s lives. It’s my job as their mom. It’s a job I love and try to do well… To give my customers — my children — some extra special attention. Like Beverly did for me… for us!
The Old Soul has been having a rough time focusing on her school work. She’s not only shy but she’s the quintessential day-dreamer — which is turning into her “thing” (because everyone has something) — so this week’s challenge of completing and presenting an assigned project on Native American Indians was a more daunting task for her than it is for most of her classmates. Admittedly, she did her share of procrastinating in an effort to avoid the work but also because getting the project organized, getting started, and finishing is tough for her. Still, with a little push from Mom, she did it! Staying up way too late every night for multiple nights in a row, she put together an outstanding diorama of an Algonquian Indian village. If that were all she had to do, she’d have been quite satisfied with her work, and the anxiety it provoked would have quickly dissipated. But, unfortunately for her, she was randomly chosen to be the first to give the oral presentation part of the assignment. While she was excited about the possibility of getting it over with, she was also nervous about actually getting through it… being able just to find her voice to speak, never mind looking at her classmates and recalling the information she needed to convey under the pressure of having her entire class all staring at her.
On Friday, the Old Soul proudly carried her diorama into school and was instructed to place it with the others created by her fellow 4th graders, all studying Native Americans. All giving oral presentations this week in their respective classrooms. Though her project more than held its own in a large field of dioramas, she felt a pang of inadequacy when she saw the realistic painted Indian figurines in the other projects.
You see, despite our best, if not late, efforts, and though we’d gone last week to Michael’s Craft Store looking for better Indians, our search was not fruitful. The night before the due date, we cut the war shields and weaponry from the molded plastic arms, which helped her to finally settle for the few green plastic Indians we already had… hesitatingly.
Having the right indians for my Old Soul became my extra tiny-little baby step. And helping me take that step was Beverly.
As I said, we’d visited Michael’s twice, and checked BJs followed byToys R us, Wal-Mart, Target and Dave’s Hobby Shop, in that order and with 3 little kids in tow, before finally giving up on Sunday night. On Monday, after I’d dropped the Old Soul to school she called from the office to say she’d forgotten her trombone; could I bring it? I asked how her presentation went and, with that tinge of worry only a mother would notice, she said it wasn’t until after lunch. I decided to try Michael’s one last time… in hopes that maybe they’d received a new shipment. Sadly, my vision of shelves packed with gleaming new Indian “Safari Toobs” did not materialize… but my instincts were NOT altogether wrong either. On my previous visits, I’d asked a couple of employees whether they had the Indians in question. “No! We don’t have anything like that!” and “If we had them they’d be over there! (pointing across the store)” were their passing, unsympathetic responses. But not so with Beverly.
Beverly wore an inventory gun at her hip and was working up a sweat unpacking merchandise neatly onto the shelves when I interrupted her. She stopped everything and walked me through several aisles and four different locations where I might find my Indians. Side-by-side we searched the spikes that held the hanging toobs to no avail. Then she pulled out her gun and shot the barcode of the “Powhatan Indian” toob. “None of these in inventory… Wait! I think the “Wild West” Toob has a few Indians too.” She shot this second barcode and the gun lit up showing remaining inventory… But where? She walked away with her pointer finger extended in the requisite “wait” sign of and returned within a minute with a large flight of rolling stairs. Up and down the aisles she went. Up and down the stairs she went. Painstakingly searching then tearing open several boxes only to be disappointed. “More Rainforest toobs!” Still, Beverly knew the gun doesn’t lie. So she gave me the inventory numbers she was looking for and we split up to cover more ground. Eventually I came across 2 boxes on a distant shelf. She rolled the stairs over and lifted the first box, psyched with the weight of it. She KNEW we’d hit the jackpot even before cutting it open. She pulled brand new toobs of Wild West figurines from the box and, not yet satisfied that she’d done all she could for me, she shook and searched the toob for Indians, just to be sure! “Yup, there’s an Indian chief, a mother Indian and her child, and a brave. Will that work?”
Tears welled up in my eyes. Honestly, I wanted to hug Beverly…. I didn’t, but it was hard not to! I thanked her profusely and told her she really had no idea what a difference she’d made today in my life and in my daughter’s life! Beverly’s response, “I’m just doing my job. Glad I could help.” I said goodbye and Beverly went back to unpacking merchandise. As I passed her she said with a smile, “Wish your daughter good luck, from me!”
I went to the register with my 2 Wild West Toobs and asked the cashier if I could speak with the manager. Concerned that she had a disgruntled customer on her hands, she asked why I needed the manager and I explained that I just needed to discuss something with him. She obliged via the store intercom. Another more-senior employee came and asked if she could help and, again, I asked to speak to the manager. When he finally came up from wherever managers go when they’re not on the selling floor, I explained all that Beverly had done for me. I explained how not just willing, but determined she was to help me find what I was looking for. How she’d stayed with me until the job was done to my satisfaction. I told of the 2 previous employees who could not be bothered! I told him that Beverly was awesome and he should reward her dedication. How he could not even begin to understand the depth of the impact of her actions. He asked me to call 1-800-Michaels and report my experience so that he could recognize Beverly formerly. I did!
I ACTED thankful instead of just feeling it and then just keeping it to myself. I went that extra step for Beverly because Beverly went that extra step for my Old Soul! People like that need to be recognized in this world! And the rest of us need to first, BE thankful, and THEN Act thankful! Everyone wins!
I delivered the Indians and a few woodland animal figurines we had lying around to the Old Soul’s school just before lunch. I put a love note/you-go-girl note in the bag that said Beverly at Michael’s helped me find her Indians and that Beverly and I both wish her luck. I told her that she’s amazing, her project is fantastic and that I knew she would do well. I told her that I loved her to bits and signed the note, xo Mom (as I always do).
So the Old Soul placed her Indians into her diorama and gave her presentation. With the right Indians, her confidence was restored, and she was able to find her voice. She relayed all her knowledge and love of the Algonquian Indians of Long Island. She got a 3+ out of 4 and came home smiling…. and said, “Thank you Mom” as she hugged me tight…. it was recognition for that tiny-little baby step I took.
Now I need to take her to Michael’s so she can thank Beverly.