Do you ever get tired of hanging out with your friends? Yeah, me too. I mean come on, I can only fake laugh at their jokes for so long.
Just kidding, I actually really do love my friends’ cringey jokes. However, constantly hanging out with people your same age, which tends to happen at college, can be a little overwhelming sometimes. That’s why I take 40 minutes out of every Tuesday to put my life as a first-year Whittie on hold. For 40 minutes each week I transform my 19-year-old mind into that of a 7-year-old. This magnificent transformation is made possible by the Friends Program of Walla Walla, a community service organization that brings volunteers to preschools. The basic idea behind this organization is that it pairs a volunteer with a preschooler who may be having a rough time due to a variety of reasons, ranging anywhere from family difficulties to physical disabilities. The 40-minute session that the volunteer spends with their preschooler serves as a way for the preschooler to temporarily forget about the rough situations that surround their life, even at such a young age. The preschooler gets a chance to talk with someone with a more advanced perspective of the world, which then helps the preschooler cumulate a broader perspective overall. The volunteer can be especially essential for cases involving a preschooler lacking a strong parental figure in their life, because the volunteer can act as one, perhaps only to a certain minimal extent, but at least it’s something.
Alright, so we’ve established that the preschooler enjoys having their “Friend” visit and benefits quite a bit from the encounter. However, a very instrumental point is that the preschooler is certainly not the only one who enjoys these weekly meetings. I, as a volunteer, gain just as much reward as does my little preschool friend, Laura. Laura, a pink-loving, gymnastics practicing, hot cocoa drinking, competitive lap running, smiley little girl makes me appreciate being me. She makes me feel like I’m a kid gain, as she includes me in all her daily antics. Together, Laura and I play tag, run laps around the field, eat snacks, play in the sand, and sing “I Believe I Can Fly,” our favorite song. During our most recent playdate, Laura and her friends and I played “Deadman” (with altered rules), a game which consists of burying someone in the autumn leaves and waiting until they spring to their feet, flinging leaves everywhere and tagging the next person to be the deadman. For some reason, which still remains unknown to me, all the kids decided that I represent the best deadman and thus should always be the deadman regardless of whom I am able to tag after my resurrection. The product of this decision was laughter, as well as a ridiculous amount of leaves construed about my hair and body, eliciting meticulous leaf-picking for the remainder of my day. The laughter made it all worth it, of course.
When I participate in these various preschool activities, I do not participate as the 19-year-old that I am. Life becomes reduced to its very origin: growing up. When I am with Laura, I am sent back down the ladder of childhood only to reach a level where mine and Laura’s understandings are in sync. Through implementation of this syncing, outside distractions fail to bring us down. We help each other look on the bright side. I have Laura, and Laura has me. I may not be a cook, but together, Laura and I cook a darn good pot of positive vibes that we serve to ourselves, as well as to all our 7-year-old friends.