Kids are reaching out in subtle yet shocking ways. While speaking in La Porte, IN today to 3rd graders at Handley Elementary, I asked the audience for questions. Hands shot up in the air. I finally got to one boy, who was sitting in the back in his own row, alone. I pointed to him and said, “you! What’s your question?”
The boy, with a serious and searching look in his eyes, looked straight into my eyes, as if he hoped to find something, and asked, “if you can make the world a better place and fair, can you make life a better place and fair?”
I literally took a step back. Could this have been uttered by the tongue of a 3rd grader? Something this insightful? He was a thinker, and I could tell, upon hearing his question, that he had been wanting to ask this ever since I challenged the kids to use their passions to make the world a better place.
“Wow,” I said, “that is beautiful...what is your name?”
“Quentin,” he responded, while remaining stoic and wide-eyed.
“Your question is possibly the most beautiful question I have ever gotten...thank you for your question, Quentin, wow. Did everyone hear that?”
I repeated the question to all the 3rd graders and their teachers sitting before me, then I answered, “100-percent yes, Quentin! Absolutely!”
The 3rd graders listening hard:
Me talking to the kids (sorry it's rotated):
I could just see that Quentin, even while remaining expressionless, found something in my hopeful answer that he could relate to his own life. I had a feeling that he was searching to better his life, and wondering how. Who knows what his home life is like, maybe wonderful, but my impression was that he was looking for a better way. And to me, that was inspiring. If my notion is correct, Quentin was looking for hope, looking for a way to change, instead of taking it as it had been given to him.
Later on, after I was done talking to these excitable kids, a few stuck around after all their classmates had left. One girl stayed back on her own. Another boy had stuck around and asked me, "when I turn 18, I'm gonna ride my bike across America like you did running, and I was wondering, would you come with me?" My host, Sue, who was my chauffeur for the day (thanks, Sue!), told me after all the kids had left, “you can just tell that these kids are so needy...they didn’t want to leave, Katie...see how some stuck around? They want more in life...they are needy for something.”
While walking out in the hallway, one girl came up to me and said, “Katie, I want to be a runner just like you!” Another girl asked, “how can I sign up for running?” They want more.
We can all learn from Quentin and these kids. They take hope wherever they can get it, and if they need it, we can help provide it. We just have to be hopeful ourselves. I challenge you all to keep your hope, search for ways to make the world a better place, and if you can do that, let a child see that hope through your eyes.
I feel like I gave a child hope today, and that is priceless.