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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bead Expo, Part II

Can you spot the troublemaker in this picture?

Some call it bribery, but we called it opportunity. The girls in our project were asked if they would babysit on Saturday in exchange for a trip to the bead expo on Sunday. The answer was..."Yeah. OK." Ah, the teen years and their enthusiasm.

Having rested our feet on Saturday night, Susan, Anna, and I were good to go on Sunday morning (well, me, not so much--the shingles episode isn't over, but it can be tolerated pretty well if there are beads involved). Seven young ladies were waiting for their day at the bead show, and as it turned out, it was a good thing our feet were rested because the girls kept us on our toes.

The girls had a set amount of money to spend, but with a very tough string attached: Nothing could be purchased without group consensus. Getting seven teen girls to agree on anything is a monumental challenge under the best of circumstances, but when it's an issue of personal taste, you can be sure there will be spirited discussion with every purchase. There was.

The three of us who were the chaperones today had our own agenda. We want the girls to acquire the social skills they'll need to be successful, respected young women. We want them to learn to work together, to develop skills related to negotiation, discussion, compromise, and fairness. We also want them to understand what is and isn't worth arguing about, and when it is or isn't important to stand one's ground.

We also wanted them to develop an appreciation for the beads they've been using for their creative endeavors. Until today, they had never even considered where their beads come from or what they cost. It's a lesson in value that all kids learn sooner or later, and today these girls learned that you can't buy everything you see and that not everything you like is worth the price. It was a day of awareness, thinking, deliberation and consideration. And beads. Lots of beads.

The girls, like the women on Saturday, were most drawn to anything faceted, sparkly, crystal, shiny, or bright. Anna helped them to see that such strong qualities must be tempered with more basic attributes if the dominant features are to be appreciated and not overwhelming.

The girls could barely contain themselves as they made their way from booth to booth. They wanted to look at everything, touch everything, buy everything, and touch everything yet again. They talked, laughed, compared, and went in seven different directions, only to be corralled and redirected, brought together and asked to focus (ha!).

At the end of the day, seven young ladies spent a day to remember and as they tumbled out the front door to the parking lot, they were already talking about next year's show and what they hoped to buy. They also saw some gorgeous jewelry they'd like to learn how to make, and we hope they feel inspired by the beauty they encountered today.

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