Serving children and families in my community is one of the most important parts of my life. I grew up in Cumberland, Maryland where I watched my own Mother do the same; serve children. She did so all her life and I am proud to follow in her steps. I choose a career in child care for a variety of reasons, but stay for one: I want to improve and enhance the lives of children. The first five years of a life have so much to do with how the next 80 years will be. So, impacting a child’s life early can change the trajectory of their lives forever. When I can help a child know that he or she is enough, I have made a positive impact that can last a lifetime.
My love for children is deeply rooted in my experience with my daughter. She was lost and I had to work so hard to find her. That made her consciousness, interactions, and participation with me and others so precious to me. I found great joy in her words, actions and thoughts because they were not accessible to me for a long time. After this process of discovery, I didn’t want to miss a second with my daughter.
My appreciation for children grew dramatically since that early experience with my daughter. Enter in: the world of child care. From 1997 to 2018, I had a well-established child care in my home. My child care was a Keystone Stars 4 Facility and member of PACCA. I continue to be a member of PACCA. My child care was more than child care; we were an extended family. The children of my child care called themselves “The Crew” and they loved art, technology, reading, learning and creating. The Crew enjoyed having lots going on during their time together. During these 11 precious years, I developed lasting relationships with families and children.
I find children are more resilient than adults so they hold a positive and fun-loving attitude even during difficult situations. They are our greatest teachers because they have a stance that is in a positive place. They adapt and bounce back so quickly. Also, children will not hold hate in their hearts like judgments and/or prejudice unless they are taught that by others. They don’t spend time looking for what divides us as humans as adults do: You are Republican and I am a Democrat, you are rich and I am poor, etc. Unless the child is taught division and judgment, children have a natural inclination to love and accept others. It’s cool. Even when children are abused or neglected, a child will recover if given love and a safe place. They are amazing creatures to me. Furthermore, I think they are fun to teach and be with. They make me laugh!
A Life-Changing Event
In 2016, my Mother needed me to care for her in my home and I was forced to close my child care for a short time. My mother and I were very close. Since she worked in child care all her life, she took great interest in and cared deeply about The Crew. My mother stayed with me for only a little while before she passed away one evening, warm, safe, surrounded by love and unafraid. This event changed my life.
Inspiration from Mother, and The Crew
Following the passing of my Mother, The Crew returned with great understanding. We talked about what had happened to my mother, and we talked about death. We talked about our feelings and next steps. They tried very hard to help me. But despite efforts, I remained unsure how to proceed. Then, the answers came from my Crew. They said, “Ms. Sue, you need to get something going on!” They encouraged me to get a project going; something I enjoy doing. They said,
“Write those stories down you always told us. Make something for your Mother since you miss her. Write it, then read it to us. We can help!”
Creating a Book
My children, The Crew, knew exactly what to do.
The Crew and I decided to start with a story about a bumblebee that frequently visited our yard. After some research, we decided the bumblebee was curious about us and perhaps, wanted to be our friend. In the evenings, I would write the story and read passages of the book to The Crew during the day. If they thought it was fun and interesting, I knew other children would like the story too. The Bumblebee and Me was published in 2016, and has hand painted watercolor illustrations from a local artist friend of mine, Kathleen Renninger. It is a beautiful book. I am proud of this first work for many reasons but mostly, because it features my mother, Liz, as one of the main characters.
With the motivation of my children along with the inspiration of my Mother, I found myself on a new path: authoring children’s books in addition to a path to personal peace and gratification.
Dedication to children will be my work for the remainder of my life.
More About Sue James:
- Graduate from Purdue Global University with Honors Bachelors in Early Childhood Development
- CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential Holder for many years
- Member of PACCA (Pennsylvania Childcare Association)
- Childcare provider for 20 years serving 49 children and developing long-term relationships with many of them and their families