“Buenos dìas! Buenos dìas!” said the full-faced smiling boy, as he bobbed around the hot tub in his turtle and seahorse covered flota. He made his rounds to all the Mexican, American, and Canadian guests at the El Cid, the marina/hotel I’m staying at in Mazatlan, waving everyone hello before pausing on a manmade rock to speak with me.
“Hola!” he said, beaming. “Buenos días!” He didn’t seem to notice or care that it was no longer morning, and spoke with a contented sigh, as if all days are good and should be announced as such. I looked over to his mother, smiling somewhat nervously. She asked with her eyes, “Is he bothering you? Let me know if you need me to get him.” I smiled back at her, assuring her that 6-year-old Diego was more than fine where he sat.
Those that know me well, know that I love being around children. Kids are so alive, honest, and carry with them a fresh perspective on the world. I’ve been the oldest for most of my life, a teacher, a babysitter, camp counselor for all ages, etc. and when the time comes, I will absolutely love being a mother.
Diego showed me his doughnut-shaped flota, and we talked about all types of things (in Spanish). He showed me his Snoopy bathing suit, happily pointed out his mom and offered to introduce her to me, told me that he didn’t always like school because Jesse didn’t want to play with him, offered to race around the hot tub, and proudly announced all the colors he knew in English. Every 5-10 minutes, he would say to me and the group of people I was with, “Espérame un minuto. Regresarè!” and just as he had promised, he returned a minute or two later to after chatting with his mom or some other new friend in the hot tub.
Diego made friends with almost everyone there. He splashed from person to person with a bright smile. Sometimes he would shake hands or sit with him/her. Nancy, Diego’s mother, had the same look she originally gave me from person to person, both in awe and unsure how her son’s behavior would sit with the fellow guests. Everyone loved him!
One of the girls in my group was nervous about her lack of Spanish but was soon playing with Diego just the same. He would speak to her, and she would look back at him smiling, “I have no idea what you’re saying.” It didn’t matter.
“Always smile back at little children. To ignore them is to destroy their belief that the world is good.” –Pam Brown
Children have a way of opening hearts. The artful way that Diego moved around the hot tub outshone most diplomats. He brought us together. Got us talking, laughing, and playing with one another. I can only imagine what would happen if we all approached one another with the purity of joy and openness of little Diego.