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5 Kids Who inspired me this week

Simple acts of childhood have left me craving for pen and paper.

5 Kids Who inspired me this week

I spend two weeks of every summer working at a camp for Young Writers. This year, I've had the ultimate and unexpected pleasure of working with the most imaginative and outwardly expressive first and second graders that I've had the fortune to encounter. Everything that they say is the start of a short story, and without meaning to, their genuine and un-self-conscious actions have led me back to inspiration. Below are just a few moments I've captured this week.

The Girl Who Traces Her Path in Chalk

For four days, she kept her lips sealed and her stories pasted in the back of her brain. We spend the mornings gathering together outside the Education building, on a bench by a sidewalk. The other counselors donated some chalk, but unlike the other kids, who scribble eager sketches of lions roaring and flowers blooming, she walks laps around us. With one hand, she drags a stick of pink chalk along the cement, letting it scrape off in fluid movements. She doesn't turn around to see the shape of the line or the path she's traced, she just continues, leaving art in her wake.

If we could all take a pinch of that magic and create something beautiful all around us, imagine how many people might finally look up from their phone screens and see the flowers, see the chalk drawings, see the world a little differently.

The Boy Who Loves Snakes (oh- and Pokemon)

He is the opposite of the girl with chalk. Like Wikipedia on steroids, he recites the ten largest snakes (in order, from tenth to first) by weight, then by length, then by strength, and so on. Each morning, he races to the bench and offers me a new book- one on carnivores, one on snakes, one on jungle cats, and today, an encyclopedia of Pokemon (organized by region). With each book comes another wealth of knowledge- this kid, just seven years old, has such a deep passion for reading that he can hardly contain all that he knows. His sentences come out in bursts, flurries of words that don't always make sense, and when he doesn't know something (for example, how to spell the word "constrictor"), he asks humbly for help.

I crave the drive to learn and absorb that he holds. If I could recite every book that I read, I don't think I would ever stop reading. As kids, most of us love the gift of learning, but as we get older, some of that motivation wastes away. Why should we let the tap run dry?

The Girl Who Stays Excited

She's coming to camp because her mom runs it. Her sister was in my group of fourth graders last summer, but didn't hold even a comparable level of energy. She smiles all day, and though she lags behind some of the rest in terms of grammatical and reading ability, she is excited to learn and remains engaged constantly. She discovers that by spelling certain words, she can rearrange the letters to spell her own name, and her heart seems to jump visibly out of her chest. She nearly shrieks, and she shares. Her stories are shamelessly fantastical, and follow the footsteps of a bunny named Hope (pronounced Hop-pee, mind you) and a fairy planning a surprise party.

It's the little things that matter most, so they say. But by getting caught up in the business matters of daily life, we often overlook those magic moments. Like her, I want to giggle at every moment, smile when a word starts with a Z, like my name. I want to get excited over washing my hands just because the chalk on my fingers will become neon pink in the water.

The Girl Who Hopscotches Down the Hallway

She's the quietest of the girls, and speaks with a slight lisp that she'll eventually grow out of. She hasn't lost that little girl glow on her fair cheeks, and her curly blonde hair makes her fit for any Disney show that's aired since 2010 - but despite her reserved nature, she's got the spirit of a puppy dog. She was the first of the girls to realize after snack today that the tile pattern in the hallways mimicked closely the hopscotch court they'd been forced to abandon by coming inside. And so began the game. She brought the chipper, outside antics inside, and both I and many of the other girls thank her for that.

It's Summertime. We're supposed to laugh and play. If everything is a game, I want to play it. Turn chores into sing-a-longs. Turn lectures into momentous speeches, play reporter. Act like a kid and feel joyous. Even if you can't speak up, you can play along.

The Boy Who Sent a Cat to the Moon

He's a sweetheart, but he's never written a thing before. Remember those roaring lions I mentioned earlier? He drew at least eight in the past two days, jumping and running around in circles as he did it. He begged me to give him one of my pet dogs today.
"Please?! My mom says I can't have one because I won't take care of it."
He wrote his first story today. It's a simple story that reads much like a fable- the cat who jumped to the moon because he wanted to see the stars. There isn't much more to his story than that, but the sentiment of reaching as far as the sky to catch a dream danced on my heartstrings all morning.

We encourage children to follow their dreams, but at a single point in each child's life, that push to reach as far as one can dwindles, then stops. We replace dreams with practicality, with numbers, with deadlines. But a little dreaming can do a lot of good. If we start dreaming, we become innovators, and invent the will to change the world. Maybe we just need to jump to the moon.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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