(disclaimer- not the kids I was with)
I regularly volunteer with a charity taking mentally or physically handicapped kids/adults sailing. A very active and enthusiastic school group of about twenty kids arrived smiling and shaking hands with everyone.
One girl wearing a tiara introduced herself as “Queen Esmeralda” and asked if we could go on the green catamaran together. She was whisked off to “buddy sail” in one of the small sail boats, but since I’m only beginning to sail I however was detailed to the catamaran. My arms were already aching due to the gusty conditions I’d been paddling in all morning, but who could resist the smiles?
Our boat consisted of a carer, another sailing volunteer, and a bunch of enthusiastic (if not so effective) boys at the paddles. I’m so glad I went we had such fun! We fed bread to the ducks and swans (having to flee when a whole flotilla pursued us). We played pirates racing or trying to catch the other red catamaran. The boys faked sinking (waving arms and calling for help) to the paroling safety boat who then joined in the fun for a while sending waves our way to resounding squeals and laughter as the canoe tossed on the break. I looked at the kids and recalled the other groups I’d taken out and realised – these guys really know how to have fun. They were totally free just being themselves.
I watched the black preteen seated across from me “break dancing” his arms, his smile about to overtake his ears when a wave hit, I recalled the downs syndrome girl earlier that wouldn’t take off her hood for her carer to take a photo till I said she was so pretty we wanted a picture – then what wreaths of gleaming smiles she shone for the camera.
Attending my grandson’s school play that evening I couldn’t help but see how much freer and happier the kids on the lake had been. They weren’t in the least inhibited as were the “normal” school kids trying to be cool.
I realized how much I can learn from these folks, adults and kids both. I could never match those radiant smiles. Credit must of course be given to their wonderful carers and parents, you can easily see they are loved and cared for.
The phrase, ” without guile” comes to mind regarding these kids, their joy is genuine and I’m honored to have shared in it.