Many of us take for granted our effect on other people, assuming our existence is a solitary one. A recent trip to my son’s school made me realize that I am a celebrity, not in the media world, but in the eyes of one child I’m not even related to.
Mr. Carter recently turned five and one of the activities that surrounded his birthday was a visit to his school during lunch to bring dessert. Since the kids had been at his birthday party the weekend before and were served cupcakes, I decided donuts were a better option for the school visit in case they were caked-out.
Katie met me there and we were given seats at a table toward the front of the classroom, where Mr. Carter joined us. Other Pre-k-sized tables were set up across the room where the students ate their normal lunches, while we waited for our turn to bring out the donuts when everyone was finished.
As we passed the donuts out to the students at their seats, some of the kids began to roam around and talk to kids at other tables. One of Mr. Carter’s classmates made his way near me, but I had not yet paid attention to the fact he was staring at me. Once I tossed my empty box and washed my hands this little blonde boy was still standing there, staring with a slight grin on his face.
I leaned down and said hello, and he responded by saying he knew my name. In my mind I thought Mom was a pretty easy name for him to remember and then he said, “Melissa.” I was surprised that he really did know my name and he said, “I know it because Mr. Carter talks about you all the time.”
I was speechless, trying to clear the frog in my throat before anyone noticed I was about to tear up. Of course, my son is not going to come home and tell me the tales he tells his classmates about me, but I suppose I never assumed he talked about me at all. But his classmate still stood there, smile on his face, staring at me. That’s when I realized this little boy seemed to have a crush on me. Mind you boys didn’t have crushes on me when I was five, so this was a new experience.
At another school event a few days later that same classmate would be there, and I wondered if he would have the same reaction to me. Sure enough, when I arrived, this little boy stared, smiled, and waved. Katie was beside me when he saw me and said jokingly, “You still got it.”
There is a sweetness in young children that adults bury deep. We still have those lovely reactions within us, but somehow we’ve allowed hurt to keep them from re-surfacing. When it comes to a 5-year-old it’s easy to tell how he or she is feeling, but it’s more difficult in a 50-year-old.
Mr. Carter and his adorable friend have taught me not to assume we don’t still inspire others in some way, it’s just we may never see evidence of that fact.