For the last two weeks I've been going to physical therapy to rehab my knee.
I'm a big believer in exposing kids to new opportunities and careers. So as I left therapy the first day, I asked my physical therapist if he would mind if I brought a kid with me the next time. He said he didn't think it would be a problem.
So...each time since, I have taken a different "kid" with me. Warzandrielle, a sophomore, was first. Hayzul, a 4th grader, was next. Brittany, a sophomore in college was next. Each of those guys seemed to enjoy the experience. Warzandrielle celebrated with me when I came home and told her my knee had healed enough for me to make an entire revolution on a stationary bike. Hayzul learned what a quadricep, a hamstring, and a calf muscle was. And Brittany decided that she just might want to change her major from Political Science to Sports Medicine.
So, tonight, when Danielle (our After-School Academy Coordinator) brought Iesha (2nd grader) to me, I thought she had asked someone too young. On the way there, I talked to her about what we were going to be doing. I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said a doctor. I figured at least that was a start.
Once there, as I worked on the bike and then the shuttle machine, I tried to give Iesha some similar activities so she could work the same muscles I was working. She did the exercises, but seemed just as content watching me and everyone else doing exercises.
After doing a few exercises, one of the therapists allowed Iesha to shut off the timer and asked if she was going to read the next exercise on the clipboard. Iesha, being as quiet and shy as she is, didn't respond. Feeling that it was ok for Iesha to look at the clipboard, I asked her if she was going to tell me the next activity. Next thing I knew, the beeper went off. Iesha took it upon herself to turn off the beeper, take the clipboard off of the counter, and begin to read me the next item on the list, "Is-o-met-ric..." she began.
She wasn't being silly. She was very intent on her job. She took on the role so well that I could see shock but a pleasant, surprised smile on my physical therapist's face as he watched her. He proceeded to ask Iesha what I was supposed to do next. Very intently, she looked at the chart and did her best to figure out which exercise was next and how to pronounce it. As we finished up, he smiled in a very pleased way and commented to her in a very genuine way, "We need to hire you!" He went on to say that child labor laws would prevent that, but I got the feeling that had Iesha been about 10 years older he would've hired her on the spot! When we left, my therapist very seriously asked her if she was going to come back.
As we got in the car, I loved watching the smile creep across her face as I told her from now on I was going to refer to her as Dr. Iesha.
Ask Iesha what she wants to be now and I think she just might tell you, "Phy-si-cal thera-pist." It's a big career with a hard name. We've just got to work on saying it.