It was on a sizzling summer’s day when third grader, Jayla, and I were having a conversation as we swung on the swings on the playground of the Boys and Girls Club. “I bet I can swing faster than you!” Jayla teased. “We’ll see about that,” I said as we both started to swing ourselves rapidly up into the warm air. I started to run out of breath as I tried to catch up to Jayla who was a couple inches above me, but the heat took its toll on my body and my legs started to swing less swiftly. Jayla started to chant, “I win!” with the biggest smile on her face as she swung to the highest point one could reach, while I was gently swinging back to earth’s surface. My feet touched the ground and I said with a laugh, “Only because I let you!” Jayla laughed as she began to stop her momentum and was reunited with the ground. “My sister and I always used to have races like that,” Jayla said with her smile dimming down. “But now she never pays attention to me anymore…not really anyone at home does. This is the only place where I feel wanted, play, and meet fun people like you,” she said. “Good, I’m glad! I’ll race you to the water fountain!” I said. Together, we raced to get some ice cold water and Jayla was declared the winner.
Why would Jayla, within an hour of just meeting her, confide in me as if I had known her for years? Was it some sort of sign from above? All I know is that because of Jayla, I am meant to influence children’s lives. I may have lost the races Jayla and I played on that sizzling summer’s day, but I left knowing I had a new friend and with the key that revealed my vocation; two of the greatest winnings one could ever obtain.