This I Believe

Janel - Houston, Texas
Entered on April 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in spending time in the company of young children as often as you can. Children view the world at a different angle than adults, and I think they live life more fully for it. Besides the fact that I think that it is good for children to get to know people of all ages, I strongly believe that befriending a child has enormous benefits for adults.

My main inspiration for this belief has been my boyfriend’s four-year-old adopted sister, Emily. She came to her family a couple of years ago from an orphanage in China where she was neglected and had to fend for herself at mealtime. Even though Emily began her new life as wary of it as she was her old one, she soon became one of the most social people in her family.

I have been friends with Emily for over a year now. She decided early to trust me, and fills me in on her thoughts and daily plans. Knowing of her confidence in me means a great deal. I know that she has no ulterior motives for befriending and including me. She likes me as I am, and her example has helped me extend that same openness in love to others.

She’s also taught me that to love, you sometimes have to reach outside of your comfort zone. Emily still fears the dark, and hates her basement. However, when I was visiting her home recently, and got caught up working on an art project in the basement, she came looking for me. I heard her upstairs, repeating my name, so I hollered out, “I’m down here!” thinking that she just wanted to know where I was. But as I looked up from my work, I saw her little frame gingerly descending the staircase, gripping the rail. As she spotted me, she let go and ran straight for me. “I miss you!” she exclaimed, and informed me that she was expecting me for a play-time outside.

Moreover, I’ve learned from Emily to make do with what I have. She doesn’t get caught up in what’s fair. As a result of the scarce meals of her orphanage days, she now has to wear thick prescription glasses and has already had many teeth drilled. But instead of wishing that life was different, she shows off her violet-rimmed glasses and new fillings, saying things like, “Now I can see better.” Or, “Look at my new strong teeth.”

My perspective on life has changed just by being around Emily. She doesn’t have pretenses, doesn’t hold grudges, and has no mental tally of what I’ve done right or wrong. She loves openly and has an enthusiasm for life. I’m a better person for getting to know her. I believe that following a child’s example, we can improve our relationships, find new inspirations for happiness, and view the world with newer eyes. I believe in spending time with children.