Maya loves to sell things, organize things, think of ways to make money… She is a lot like Joshua in that way (in many ways, but it would take too long to detail them all here). Last week, she decided that she and her friend Greta should advertise in our building as ‘Mother’s Helpers’. Not yet independent babysitters, but capable girls who could go and help out while the mom takes time to clean, or cook, or just have a break and know that her child is occupied in the next room. On Saturday they designed fliers on my computer, printed them out and then took them down and hung them in the laundry rooms in our building. We have 560 apartments in our building (and the population of a small town) and two laundry rooms, each of which is outfitted with a bulletin board on which people can post items for sale, or services, etc.
Today as we were walking out of the building on our way downtown, Maya got a call on her cell phone. She didn’t recognize the number, but decided to answer. Turns out it was a resident in the building who’d seen her flier. All I heard at first was her saying, “Yes, this is Maya.” and then, “Well, I’m homeschooled, so…” I’m thinking, ‘who is this’? But then it became apparent that she was talking about the information on the flier. Now, as a little back story, Maya was not a gregarious toddler/young child who would smile and talk to anyone. Just the opposite. Often she would completely ignore people when they spoke to her, or glare at them with her big blue eyes. She hated it when people would ask her questions, and never volunteered any information to anyone if she could help it. And I never forced her, or made her feel bad about her reluctance to be polite. And now here she was this morning, talking to a complete stranger on the phone, sounding very professional and self-assured. Even when he asked how much they charge (which she and Greta had not yet discussed), she didn’t get flustered, but just laughed a little and asked if she could talk to Greta and call back later. She took the number, thanked him and got off the phone. Amazing.
Even more amazing, at 7pm this evening she picked up the phone and called back. She and Greta had decided on a rate, and she spoke for a few minutes, then came out and told me that he’d suggested we meet next week (I’m just going for the first meeting to introduce myself – I’m back up insurance for anyone who might be nervous about letting the girls hang with their toddler) and that he insists on paying them for the meeting. He and his wife have an 18 month old baby, and they are hoping the girls can come over for a couple of hours on the weekends.
Motivation is a powerful thing. Maya is still not super comfortable talking to strangers in general, but she is motivated to make this ‘business’ work. So she overcomes her discomfort. This was her idea and she has completely taken charge of it. She hasn’t asked me to do one thing, except meeting with clients the first time (which I would do anyway). All the coaxing or practice in the world would not have made Maya happy or confident in speaking to people she doesn’t know well. In fact, I think it would have had the opposite effect. (Coercion never, ever works) But the motivation to see an idea of her own succeed and make some money? Magic, people. Simply magic.