A Morning With Jocelyn

My very occasional housekeeper, Margarita, appeared yesterday with her “tail.” That’s how Mexican people refer to their trailing children, she explained, and with spring break upon us, the tail meant a visit from ten-year old Jocelyn.

I first got to know Jocelyn when her worried mother asked me to evaluate her reading skills.  She feared Jocelyn wasn’t doing as well as she should be.  So armed with expert advice from one of my teaching friends, I met with the little girl, then eight-years old, only to discover she reads better than I do. I put Margarita’s fears at bay and that was that. But from the experience, Jocelyn and I have become buddies.

We sat on the sofa together for a while yesterday morning and conversation turned to homonyms, as it so often does. What? Not in your house? When we had wrung (rung) that subject dry, we headed out into the garden where Jocelyn wanted to see first-hand the inner workings of the compost pile. She was intrigued by where exactly the coffee grounds I had saved that morning were going to end up.

Imagine that. A little girl who flatly refused to watch TV because she said it would make her bored. And then she lit up with “Hey, that’s another homonym. Bored and board!” And looked at me proudly for approval.

Instead she wanted to help me in the garden. We trimmed and raked and filled wheelbarrows together while Jocelyn regaled me with stories about the bad boy who hit himself in the eye with a pencil and had to go to the nurse and her nice teacher, Mr. Dunnivan, and her visit to the Science Museum and her upcoming field trip to Jamestown and……you get the picture, right?

And as we headed off to the compost pile, she suddenly stopped and exclaimed “Oh, it’s beautiful! Look, Miss Barbara, it looks just like waves.” And I saw that the arborvitae I was passing by without notice was indeed covered in golden-tipped waves.


When I praised her for being so observant, she beamed and said the bush was giving her “high-fives.” Oh sweetheart, I’ll never look at that bush the same way again.


But here’s why I’m telling you this story. Just picture this: a little girl eagerly scooping up a handful of compost in total amazement and then raising it to her face to inhale.

“Oh, it smells so good. Just like what you buy in the store. I can’t believe it!”

Would it surprise you to know this made me choke up a bit? Well, it did. Nothing like child-like wonder at something I take completely for granted to change my perspective on beauty.


We filled the wheelbarrow with black gold and headed into the garden. “Can I spread it?”   When she finished, she looked proudly at her work and said with such satisfaction, “Now it looks so much better. It’s beautiful.”


Yes, honey, it sure is. And so are you. Thanks for letting me see my garden through your big brown eyes.

Thanks for reading,


About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. And the odd thought or two.
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149 Responses to A Morning With Jocelyn

  1. bkpyett says:

    Such a warm enchanting post Barbara. I’m glad you enjoyed Jocelyn’s visit and a thrill that she can share so much with you. ❤


  2. Sandra says:

    Lovely post Barbara, I enjoyed her visit too!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, Barbara, what a delight Jocelyn is to notice all of these details, to help you, and all of us, see the world through her beautiful eyes. This reminds me of a local businesswoman who has also embraced a young girl. Michelle helps Dee tend her craft shop and they work on crafts together. The pair created a garden in a vacant space behind Dee’s store. And, when Michelle wanted to play the saxophone and Michelle’s family did not have the money, Dee collected enough from friends and family to buy the dear girl the musical instrument she desired. Now Michelle is in the local marching band. This morning you are reminding me of Dee and Michelle and the importance of mentoring and caring for young people. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That story warms my heart immensely, Audrey. Sometimes something like what Dee has done is ALL that is needed to make the one fundamental difference in a kid’s life that will set them on a path towards a new life. Thank you for sharing that story.


      • You are welcome and I totally agree. I make an effort to connect to young people and to encourage whenever I can. I’ve mentored a friend’s daughter in writing poetry and she’s been successful in getting two poems published. What a joy it’s been to see her enthusiasm for poetry.


  4. Beautiful story, Barbara! You must treasure her visits and she certainly enjoys spending time with you too. Your story gave me an additional notion: that I should enjoy these little moments with my own growing children. Sometimes, I fear I’m rushing to get through my parental checklist so I can catch my breadth around 9pm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and every other mother I have ever know, Allison. No mother ever looked back and said she wished she had spent more time cleaning. Even my own maniacally orderly hausfrau German mother regrets not sitting with us more often and just being with us. Hindsight, as they say, is 20-20.


  5. suzicate says:

    Children are such a delight!


  6. J.T. says:

    Your sweet story reminded me of the time when I was about 5 years old, living in Savannah, Georgia. My neighbor down the street was a sweet elderly lady name, Mrs. Hart. I remember her lovely short grey hair and the way she smelt. My sister and I would always come over every chance we can get to visit her. She’d always have something interesting for me to explore in her house. From the sewing machine to the old radio (music was always playing) and even her two white Maltese playful personalities were intriguing to me. We’ve always sat on her porch after she fed us a bowl of cereal, watching the cars go by and waiting for my dad to come home from work. (She always had the best kind of cereal.) My family moved to California when I was 7 and I’ve only received one Christmas card from her, since. Oh how you brought back such a subtle and sweet memory of her. Your kind, patience and endearing friendship to Jocelyn will always have a keep sake memory in her heart.
    Thank you for sharing!


    • Apologies for not replying sooner, I’ve just seen this comment and what a sweet one it is. You know I don’t think of myself as having a particularly big influence in Jocelyn’s life, but your comment shows that kids sometimes absorb deeply all the little things we adults do. I love your memory of the cereal! She always had the best cereal – I can remember being impressed by my friends having all the good sugary cereals my mother would never allow in the house. And the little Maltese dogs too. Thanks so much for leaving this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing that. 🙂 There is nothing like the the mind of a child to open us to the wonder of the world around us.


  8. markbialczak says:

    You have reaped what Margarita hath sowed, Barbara. Oh, happy day. Thanks for sharing such a magnificent day with the brilliant mind of Jocelyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. vannillarock says:

    Lovely story, Barbara. No wonder you choked up a little. The beautiful thing is that those days in your company and in your garden will remain firmly in her childhood memories.


  10. reocochran says:

    This post was filled with warmth, laughter and sweetness. That ‘tail’ of Jocelyn’s is a precious and happy addition to this story and post!


  11. Such a wonderful peek into your day! So glad you allowed yourself the space and time to see the world through her eyes for a bit…there is so much magic in the moments we share with children.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. cat9984 says:

    Beautiful story. She sounds like a wonderful girl.


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