I realized today that I have gone over a year without doing a post on my work with the little kids of my community – in the childcare center. Once a week I go to the center to help out with the kids, from 6 months to 4 years old. I usually don’t have a specific job, and I just float around, doing random tasks. This normally includes encouraging kids to eat during meal times, cleaning tables, wiping snot from kids’ faces, breaking up fights, singing silly songs, and holding crying babies. But it’s not all work. There are the precious moments, too. Like when you arrive and all the kids shout, “BEEEECKY!!” and pummel you. And when a three-year-old guy whispers to you, “Sit by me, Becky. Because you’re my friend.” Of course, no day lacks its funny kid quotes either. Today the older group had bananas for snack, and one boy showed me his brown damaged fruit, saying, “I want a new one. Look, it’s rotten.” To which another child nonchalantly replied, “It’s not rotten. It’s chocolate.” I couldn’t stop from laughing before getting him a good banana. All together it makes for a fun but exhausting day.
Although many of these kids are not from the richest families, they have taught me so much about being content with what you have. They always have clothes on their back, shoes on their feet, and food to eat. That is what is most important. Simple sticks and pieces of paper can be transformed into awesome superheroes and fierce tigers by the power of imagination. Not to say that none of the kids have toys, because that is not true. It’s just that there is very little pouting and tantrums because of not having the latest Barbie or LEGO toy. Their innocent joy is contagious. Kids here can see the good in every situation, and imagine the most humble object to be a something cool and fun. They can see the chocolate in a rotten banana.
Probably the most rewarding part about working at the childcare center is seeing how the kids are learning and growing. One day my four-year-old buddy came up to me and I saw that his shoes were untied. I offered to help him, like I had done many times in the past. This time, however, he said, “No. I can do it.” And I watched patiently, smiling to myself, as he tied those shoes. I was so proud of my little Jofre! Four of the oldest kids at the center when I first started coming have now moved on to school. It’s sad not seeing them anymore, but I am happy knowing that they are learning new and exciting ideas as big kids! The niños here have so much potential, and I can’t wait to see where they all end up years down the road.
So take a lesson from the kids: let's not forget to see the positive in every situation. Because even when life seems rotten, God leaves a little chocolate just for us.