Give to get, and what can we learn from kids
The saying “You feel happier when you give back” sounds cliché, but today, of all days, it was ringing so true.
I was volunteering at Variety Kids Christmas Party, helping disadvantaged kids enjoy the season. The organisation does a fantastic job each year, throwing a big event – with rides, petting zoos, entertainment, arts and crafts stalls – and over 4,500 kids get to have fun like they rarely do.
My assignment for a bit was at the table where we were getting the kids to write their name, age and draw a little picture, as a thank you note to supporters. And this one little girl, she enthusiastically started writing, her name Jaime with pink crayons, so we had a little chat and laughed a bit (she was 6 years old). Next thing I know, she takes me by the hand, says “I want to show you something”, and walks me over to the table where her sister creates something with playdough. They throw things and fidget, but then Jaime takes my hand again, and says “Let’s run, I’ll show you more” – and we run around the room, from petting show dogs to face painting, running circles around people, Jaime laughing, her little hand holding firmly onto mine. We finally end up back at our drawing station, she says “I want to do another picture” – and when I ask what is it she is drawing, Jaime says “you”. And my heart nearly broke from emotion.
How little the kids need to be happy – and how free they are in expressing their joy… So innocent and trusting; the underlying principle of treating everyone they meet as a friend. I wonder sometimes, why do we lose so much of this feeling when we grow up?
On this day at Variety event, I haven’t met a single evil child. Granted, we only saw them perhaps on a better, happy day – and many have issues, from being sick to developmental to being from vulnerable environments, which is difficult on a daily basis – but they were just so good. In a petting zoo, with baby farm animals – you’d instinctively not let kids play for the fear of them hurting the animals, and them responding – but nothing happened. Boys and girls, little and a bit more grown up, just wanted to hold baby sheep, touch the little piggies, feed the chicken. There was this one boy, he probably spent half an hour in the petting zoo, with all the animals, and I saw him cuddling a baby goat – who tenderly nudged its head on the boy’s shoulder. Trust again; and discovery.
Kids, even coming from difficult circumstances, are capable of so much joy; curiosity is their main impulse. Spending this day helping less fortunate (especially in such difficult times for Sydney), definitely reminded me of the good in humanity. From hundreds of volunteers who gave up their time to help the charity, to all the supporters, to the kids themselves – who remind us, grown ups, to be joyful for simple things, no matter your circumstances, and to start with trust.
So at the end of the party, when I was lying on the floor pretending to be conquered after a chasing fight with 3 little boys with swords made out of balloons – I was happy with them. I was laughing, and those high-fives to farewell were pure joy.
Today was a reminder to let my inner child be free once in a while (and a reminder to be grateful for the life I have). I gave a bit of my time, but I got so much more back. Helping others does make you feel better; if you have an opportunity to give a hand to someone in need, please do…
p.s. Here is a link if you’d like to support Variety with their programs.