I have been taking Ri to the homeless shelter for years. It is one of the few places where you can take kids and allow them to interact and help others in need. Ri and I would go and make crafts with the kids. She did such a great job with them; she especially loved the toddlers because she could help them use scissors and help them draw.
Now that Mario is eight, I figured it was time to get him involved, also. I had taken him with Ri and me a couple of years ago but he didn’t remember it. I also asked his football friends’ moms if they’d be interested. A lot of them were and between all of us we had a boatload of supplies and snacks for the kids.
I was a tad concerned that the boys would use this time as play time rather than help the kids. It’s hard being eight and a boy and coming to a place that has room to play tag or wrestle. Temptation creeps up.
But they all did superb. They invited the kids to sit down at their tables. They said hello and talked to them. They made crafts and instructed the kids how to make them. They were patient with the younger kids. They also created a new craft (we had given them two to work on with the kids). They created paper airplanes and made designs on them. Then they all moved to the play area and flew them together.
At one point, Mario approached me and asked if he could read his new book to some of the kids. One of the moms at the shelter was sitting next to me.
“Yes, you bring that book on over here, son.” One of her sons looked at her and complained that he didn’t like books. She scolded him “boy, you need to like books to be smart!”
And with that, Mario began to read. The younger boy, around five, listened intently. Mario used the same inflections I use when reading to him. My heart be still.