Bumps, Scrapes, and Faceplants

For one or two weeks each year I get to run around with a bunch of teenagers more than half my age. I get to pretend to be 15, 16, or 17 again. I play as hard as I can and I never regret a moment. These kids are amazing. They are willing to try new things, new challenges.

They get on the back of a tube behind a boat and they hold on for dear life. They do it even if the water is cold, or rough. They do it because of the thrill of being alive.They put on their life preservers, jump into the dark water, and climb onto the large tube… then with a thumbs up they begin to ride. They ride through the water holding on with all of their might. They slide from one side of the boat to the next and then back again, over bumps and turns. They try to hold on and not lose their pants. They try to hold on longer than the person before. They try to prove to the driver that they cannot be thrown, but they will be thrown. And so they fly. They fly through the air and land on the water, down they go and then pop back up. When they pop up they catch their breath, wipe the water out of their eyes, thumbs up and do it all over again. I love these kids!

They get on a jet ski, they take their time and learn how to drive it. They are careful at first, slow. They learn to ride the waves and to stay away from others. They listen and watch and drive cautiously. And then? Then, not much later, they see the leader take off and follow as best they can. After a few minutes, they find their courage, they find their speed and they race across the water; their faces covered with a smile. Dolphins are spotted and everyone slows to a crawl and watches, waits, looks for more. There, again, there’s another dolphin! What beauties! Such freedom! The dolphins swim by, ignoring us all, but we saw. What a delight it is to watch them!. And then I look at my kids, for they are mine for the week, and I see the smiles, the awe, the wonder, and I know that this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Fireworks. Thunderstorms. Which do we watch? Fireworks of course, there’ll be storms again tomorrow. Across the river we find a place to sit and wait. People are everywhere, kids and parents, elderly and dogs, boats in the water… everyone waiting. The sun sets, the lights go out and then the fireworks begin. How do they do it? Such colors, such patterns! The beauty created in the night. The storms on the other side of us are dancing with lightning, far away; but in front of us? In front we are mesmerized, each beautiful display, the people as one, oohs and aahs and applause. My kids again, hope. Hope and peace. No one is upset, all are enjoying the night. How is it to forget the troubles in this world? How is it to know that right now, just for a moment, everything is good?

These are the reasons I volunteer here. For a week, I get to help these forget their troubles, I get to play with them and to love on them, I get to provide them a new way to express themselves. I get to be there when they learn something new, try something hard. I get to do it alongside them. I do it for me and I do it for them, for we are both blessed.

thank you for reading,

me

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