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Service with a Smile This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Another school year, and timefor another service project. Once again I chose something I initially liked butfigured I would end up hating. I would be teaching five- and six-year-olds how toice skate. I enjoy skating, and I love kids even more, but I had a feelingputting the two together would not work.

As I opened the newly painteddoors to the familiar arena, two things hit me: the cold air and the realizationthat for once I was doing something on my own. I walked through the crowded lobbyto the locker room, where there was an abundance of small children. Cries of"Mommy, I don't want to go," and "Daddy, that's not how they lookwhen Mommy does it," rang in my ears.

I laced up my skates andstepped onto the ice. I searched frantically for someone I knew, a coach or afriend, but there was no one. As I looked around, one small boy caught my eye. Itwas apparent that it was his first time skating, and my first thought was howadorable he looked - he reminded me of an elf with little pointy ears and asmirk. He kept skating, not noticing I was watching. He would glide, fall, thenget up and glide again.

The whistle blew and we were assigned our groups.The boy, along with seven other kids who greeted me with anticipation and smiles,was assigned to my group.

Honestly, I did not want to be there. I wastired, I had a headache and I could think of better places to be, like asleep.The cold air nipped at my fingers and face, and I thought of the warmth of mybed. I decided to try my best not to show my agitation and asked everyone's namesand introduced myself as their coach. The boy I'd been watching stepped forwardand said, "My name is Jonathan and I'm six years old. I've never skatedbefore, but I'm going to be the best one here."

I could not help butgrin at his positive outlook. Suddenly, I found myself with a smile and a goodattitude.

He looked at me again and said, "I'm going to the Olympics,you know."

He stepped back and let a few more introductions takeplace before he smiled and looked at me again saying, "I don't want to learnhow to just skate, I want to work on all my jumps and spins."

I foundmyself grinning again, telling him maybe he should try playing a game with usbefore he did anything like that. But he said, "Look, Danielle, I'm going tojump."

I tried to stop him, knowing he could get hurt, but he wasdetermined. He threw himself as high as he could into the air, which was not morethan a foot, and landed in a heap on the ice.

I skated over to him,expecting tears and the usual "I hurt myself, I want to go home"complaint. Instead, Jonathan looked at me with yet another grin and said,"See, Danielle, I don't have to worry about jumping, I just have to work onlanding."

I helped him up and he gave me a hug. "Thanks, but youwon't have to do that a lot 'cause I won't be fallingmuch."

Immediately I was awake and warm; I was in a good mood, I wasnot tired and my headache had settled to something I could bear. For a moment Ihad seen things through a child's eyes. It had taken him to make me look for thegood in the world instead of focusing on the bad. He had come to the arena for alesson, but I was the one who learned something I'll never forget.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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