If you’ve been close to me for a length of time, then you’ll know that I love children. This is probably because I’m a little kid at heart. Nonetheless, I love kids, and I would venture to say they love me as well. That’s how it feels anyway.
And that is a great feeling!
Because of my playful nature, the children close to me often come around to play. I randomly wink at little kids who stare in awe of my height. I’ll smile, playfully stick my tongue out, answer questions, and talk to them. I engage them. Regardless of if it’s my first time seeing your child, I’m going to try to leave them with a smile on their face.
If you’re nice to a child, then they’ll remember it for years to come.
That should be a common sense statement, but sometimes common sense escapes us on this rollercoaster of life. We run through life at a fast pace not knowing or understanding the influence we can have over a stranger. I’m guilty of this, too. I try to engage people, but sometimes I’m just running from appointment to appointment. Event to event. Time is fleeting, and it tricks us to stop and pay attention to our surroundings.
Yesterday, I was reminded how important a simple “hello” can be in a child’s world.
I was at the gym hitting my biceps (cliche, I know). Concentration was painted across my face as I was listening to my music. I finished my set and I turned around to give myself a quick break. I scanned my surroundings, saw a child waving, and waved back to him. It was a normal exchange. However, the look on his face somewhat shocked me. This kid’s face lit up like a sunny morning.
This kid’s face lit up like sunny morning. It was as if he was saying, “Hey!! There you are!”
For a brief moment, I couldn’t remember him to save my life. It’s amazing how many thoughts run through your mind in a matter of seconds. I thought to myself, “old neighbors kid? No. School? Not that either. Oh, I talked to him here.”Finally placing the kid, I began to second guess myself. I know my face may have a scowl on it after finishing a set. I didn’t want the child to think I was frowning at him. I pushed these thoughts aside and continued my workout. Later on, I passed by the child and his dad. I took this opportunity to engage the child. We engaged in small talk. Nothing huge. However, something his dad said stuck with me... He said,
“I don’t know why, but every time we come to the gym (which is once every week) my kid says, ‘I wonder if we are going to see that big guy?’ I told him he didn’t get that big by staying out of it.”
Then, it clicked.
I saw this child standing by his parents one night as they were working out. I talked to him about something (I’m not sure what), and he has since remembered me. That one moment where I engaged him with simple conversation has stayed with him enough to ask about me. Not once, but every time they come to the gym.
I think that’s pretty cool.
I didn’t do anything special other than talk to the child. A simple gesture has become an expectation. This kid expects me to be nice to him, and he should. Maybe I made him feel comfortable in an awkward setting. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, our initial conversation stayed with him. Sometimes a smile and kind words go a long way in making people happy. We never know how our words affect anyone else. Especially a child. That’s why words should always be kind and filled with love.
That is one of many ways to make a kid smile. To get them infected.