She’s a cool kid. Ten years old. You should hear the way she talks. She sounds like she could be a quarterback.
She’s a firecracker. She likes knock-knock jokes, Disney princesses, and spontaneous high-fives.
She can slap your hand hard enough to make it sting.
“She’s a neat kid,” her mother says. “We always say she’ll probably end up being president one day.”
Maybe. But for now, her occupation is a different one.
“I like to give cool gifts,” the girl tells me.
The cool gifts started two years ago. A boy at school lost his mother to overdose. It was around that time the girl begged her parents for an Xbox.
Eventually, like most good parents, they gave in. They bought the video-game console and surprised her. It came wrapped in ribbons and paper. But the girl never opened it.
Instead, she took it to school. She handed it to the boy after class.
A teacher overheard the girl tell him, “Play with this whenever you get sad, it’ll take your mind off sad things.”
Then, there was the man in her neighborhood. He lived several houses down the street. He had a car accident—a bad one. Head injury, broken leg, he was confined to his bed for awhile.
One day, the girl and her mother arrived on his porch unannounced. The girl had crocheted a hat from bright green yarn.
“Green’s the color of healing,” the girl told the man. “When you wear this hat, I’m gonna be wearing one made with the same yarn. And it’ll be like having a friend with you.”
I told you she was a cool kid.
The girl’s mother helped her make the hats. It took a whole week. The gifts were well-received.
The man wore his hat to every physical therapy appointment. He relearned to walk in that hat.
There was also the woman, a custodian. She had to quit her job because her husband developed an autoimmune disease.
So the girl made cookies. Several dozen. Each cookie was iced and accompanied with a handwritten poem on a Post-It note. Simple, heartfelt poems.
The next morning, she and her mother left the cookies and poetry on the family’s porch.
She didn’t stop there. The girl called the man every afternoon just to talk.
Ten years old.
I asked her mother where the girl got such a personality.
“That’s the thing,” said her mother. “We don’t know. I mean, I’d like to take credit, but I can’t. This is all her.”
Who knows where it comes from. And who cares. Some things hail from heavenly places unseen. Some things are gifts from the heart of a child. There’s not much difference between the two.
Either way, this girl has something special inside her. She might appear small, but not if you look at her with your eyes closed.
Just a few weeks ago, the girl’s teacher was giving a lesson on 19th century inventors who changed the world.
She asked the class how someone would go about changing the world today.
One kid answered, “Recycling.”
Another kid said, “My dad says we should use less plastic.”
“Medicine that cures cancer!”
And other classroom answers of the imaginative variety.
The little girl’s answer: “If every kid did nice things for people, it might not change the world, but I think it would be cool.”
It certainly would.
May I never get so old that I can’t learn from a ten-year-old.