I remember my 6 year old son asking me about 30 minutes after I told him that his Dad had not lived through a horrible yet heroic event “Who is going to take care of me? You will have to get another job!” He knew that his Dad had been the primary care giver. That my job a self- employed CPA often took me away from home especially during tax season. The horrific months that followed I was surrounded by my villagers of Family and Friends who took care of my children and me. But as time passed, they had to get back to their families, their lives. I had to find a way to put things back together. I had looked into the Aupaire program when Zane was born but with my Mother’s help and part-time in home child care had decided against it. I knew instinctively it was my best option.
Kim, “Our Kimmie” – a petite (but strong as an ox) nineteen year old from South Africa was the God send my broken family needed! She arrived May 7th, 2012. I was emotionally shut down. Zane – who had witnessed the accident had withdrawn, was acting out and having trouble in school. My baby Presley, who didn’t even remember her Dad, was getting ready to turn 2 and really needed nurturing.
Kim jumped right in. She figured out the schedule for the kids. We talked about what the kids needed. She figured out the rest on her own. She was self-motivated and innovative.
She got to know Zane’s teachers and figured out what she could to do to help him catch up with his classes. She persuaded him and coached him through his summer work to get him back on track when he started second grade. She fished with Zane and played with him, he talked to her. She arranged play dates so he would begin interacting with his friends again. This past summer, Kim taught Zane how to ride his bike! Something his Dad had been working on before he died in July, 2011. Kim was persistent and patient – she didn’t give up on Zane. He rode his bike and achieved such a sense of accomplishment, a gift from Kim that will last a life time.
My baby Presley has flourished under Kim’s care. Kim researched Pinterest for fun learning activities for toddlers. One day I walked in to find my 2 year old learning the Southern US States by earning a mini marshmallow! Do you know how cute it is to hear a 2 year old say “Louisiana”? Before Presley turned 3 Kim once again dug her hills in…pulled out the computer, read books – it was time to potty train! There were potty charts and sticker books and M&M’s. Presley would have good days and bad days, but again Kim took it in stride and like a true cheerleader she was Presley’s biggest fan when the goal was met!
In her “spare time” I called Kim the unofficial social director to the triad Aupaire’s. It was not uncommon for Kim to welcome the new Aupaire’s to the area. Often they hung out at our house for movies, etc. A couple of them even went on our Family vacations with us.
When I interviewed Kim and others one of the questions or conversations you have is do you want to be more or less involved with your host family in your free time. My husband and I were very socially active and I was craving adult interaction. Kim was an Angel sent from God. After the kids went to bed Kim and I would sit in the living room and talk or watch TV. She would listen to my endless stories about my Husband that I so desperately wanted to tell. I heard about her childhood and how she had become the amazing young woman sitting with me. Kim is part of my family and she is part of my Village. She and my children traveled with my Mother, spent nights with Family friends and participated in their Family functions. She traveled with my friend’s children, my niece and my God Children. She spent Holidays with us and shared in our traditions. She went on all Family vacations with us. She is my South African Daughter and calls me her American Mom. Kim is our Family now. It breaks my heart that our time for now with “Our Kimmie” has ended. I will take her to the airport tomorrow for her to return to South Africa to begin College. I will be forever grateful to her for the compassion she showed my Family during this time of healing. She confidently provided the most loving, fun and safe environment for my children that I could have dreamed of.