Through all my years of high school I was homeschooled. This was due to the fact that my mom was taking care of my grandparents in Florida, at the time we lived in North Carolina, and my dad traveled for work; therefore, there was no body to take us to school. Online school became the only option in that situation. As a way of staying busy and getting out of the house I always worked odd jobs that would hire me at the age of 15. In 10th grade, I was working a full time nannying job with four children, three dogs, one cat, a traveling dad, and an insanely fabulous, motivated mom. My main priority and attention was spent to insure the care of their six month old daughter, Jemma. She was, among many other jobs I had in the house, my most important and likeable responsibility. She was a very intelligent toddler, with a lot of attitude and charisma. She had blonde straight hair with a single curl at the very bottom and big brown eyes.
Feeding her was never an issue, as to say she ate anything and everything you put in front of her, which would explain the fact that her rolls had rolls. She loved going on long walks, the family pets and anything with bright colors. She was also very easy going. As a very young baby she never cried or made any real noises at all. By the time Jemma had turned one she had made no attempts to talk. Due to our concern of her lack of speech, Jemma’s mom, Michelle, and I decided to teach her an alternative way of communicating until she learned to talk. It didn’t take very long for us to come up with an idea. Now a days there are a couple alternative speeches being taught to babies no matter what their speech predicament is. Since I was fluent in sign language and it seemed the most practical we agreed to give it a try. I got to work immediately teaching her as much as her mind could absorb each day. I made flash cards, bought books, and even downloaded some apps on my phone to help her progress along. Within a weeks time Jemma signed her very first word, “bottle”.
To no one surprise though, of course, because we all knew this is what was always on her mind! What seems like a small accomplishment, if you’ll even recognize it at that, meant so much to me. The sense of pride and accomplish I felt in that very moment was overwhelming. Because of my hard work and dedication this beautiful child could now start tell us what she needed. The progress only continued and the excitement continued to rise every day. It was amazing this small, plump, happy, little baby could comprehend so much so quickly; moreover, the fact of how focused and eager she was for every lesson. In just a few short months, Jemma had learned almost everything I had to teach her. It got to the point where I had to look and keep up with her instead of the other way around and boy, did she made sure we “listened” to every last word she had to sign. Like a cat she would sit there and just grab at you continuously until she felt that she had your full attention to look and see what she had to say.
The feeling of pride and success I had in those few short months of Jemma’s constant improvement, is one I’ll never forget. At the age of 15.5, a young child myself, I had given a child the gift of communication. Though many could have done exactly what I did and probably even better than I; it’s something that I single-handedly completed, happily. That feeling is one no one can ever take away from me, but also one that cannot be mimic or reproduced again to the same level. To this day, I have seldom done anything that, in my eye, is so meaningful that I have had the privilege of enjoying that same exact feeling of self-importance and success, as I felt teaching Jemma sign language.