I never usually tolerate kisses in any shape or form from people who I have just met, but today I received countless affectionate pecks on the cheek that I could neither avoid nor wish to wipe away.
As this week is my vacation week, I have had a bit more time on my hands to do some non-residency things. While I still have been going in to St. Paul’s every day to work on my project, I have also purchased and starting playing Pokemon Y on my brand new Nintendo 3DS, gone for a run, gone shopping, run errands, and taken an on-call volunteer shift at my favourite place in Shaughnessy, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Every shift brings different challenges and tasks, not to mention that I had not been back at CP for a few months and I have never taken a weekday morning shift before, so I was very much looking forward to it.
This morning, I became the ultimate companion to a 2-going-on-3-year-old little girl, who is the sibling of one of the kids on the program. I’m not sure if it was because I am super likeable, or because she finds it very easy to warm up to others, but the second I knelt down beside her to say hi while she was watching Sleeping Beauty in her cozy armchair, she gave me the sweetest smile and giggle, and we were instant pals. Throughout the rest of the shift (and thank goodness the movie took up a good hour-and-a-half), I spent time with her all over the house, minutes at a time. We went down to the Volcano Room to play with the giant blocks, attempted to get into the Sand Room but it was locked, went up to 3rd floor to squish around some Playdo, ran around in the hallway, settled down in the Snoezelen Room for a few minutes, went down to the main floor Sun Room to play with the trains, went to the kitchen to have a snack (she had a yoghurt tube and pretty much a WHOLE orange, while I had a coffee and a cookie), went back up to 3rd floor to draw, then went over again to the Snoezelen Room, then went outside to play in the play house and draw with chalk on the pavement, then it was finally time for lunch. I was exhausted, to say the least. It was so amazing how much of an energy ball she was, completely tireless and neverending desire to go do something else.
However, what amazed me the most was the amount of love that this little one possesses. While I was thinking of other options of getting her to places without having to chase after her all the time, I decided to pick her up and carry her around. At first, I thought this was a bad decision because she reached for me on multiple occasions afterwards to pick her up. However, much to my surprise, she began to hold onto me tightly with her chubby little arms, and alternatively press her soft little cheek against mine and pepper my cheek with affectionate little smoochies while I carried her around. Initially, I almost wanted to pull away because I was taken aback by all the kisses, but it was physically impossible as I held her with her face at a level just beside mine. I was (and still am) touched by the amount of affection that she showed me, her temporary companion for the morning. She gives her love and affection so freely and with such endearing innocence, and her family is so lucky to have her as an unwavering beacon of light during their darker times. This was yet again another example of how much children never fail to surprise me, and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to spend time with her.
The experience I had during my shift today made me wish that I had time to commit to regular shifts as I once did a few years ago, but perhaps the magic is that much more beautiful to me because I don’t see it so often now. Regardless, I am going to continue looking out for on-call shifts to pick-up, so that I can continue to make even a small difference in some little ones’ day, as they often make insurmountable differences in mine.