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A Happy Day in Mission Bay and how Children's Smiles Make me Feel Alive!

We celebrated our striking seaside town in picturesque Mission Bay with games, songs, dances, art projects and contests. About twice a year I invite children from our large community and their American friends for a “Children’s Day in the Bay” to exercise a sport, art, music, dance and team spirit.

We make an elaborate arts and crafts project, we sing, we dance beautiful folk dances, we play Orff’s instrument, we contend in contests like biting into a piece of bread dangling on a string, opening a pack of bubble gums in oversized thick gloves and such. Then there is a puppet show to watch, produced with beautiful handmade elaborate artsy puppets, and the pinnacle of the afternoon is a “Chase Chalk Arrows” game, and this is how it goes:

The children become one big eye fixed on my raised arms, waiting anxiously on the start line for the countdown three, two, one — go! They run as fast as they can, following the chalk arrows on the sidewalk while looking for a chalk-drawn sign of an envelope which is a signal to search for a real letter hidden close by. I got it, I got it! But I saw it firs! I want to read it! The children are fighting for a spotlight in a fair competitive way and I love it! Now the tasks described in the dozen letters hidden around the bay is to be fulfilled. Everyone is eager to do well, the children are guided that they have to act as a team, the older must help the younger, the more skillful the ones that are learning. And what a pleasure it is to watch as these 16 children are taking every task seriously:

They climb the trees, they impersonate animals, they attempt gymnastics, they stay still for three long minutes, they throw a perfect jumping pebble into the lake, they answer trivia questions, they sing, dance, rope walk and such! At the very end they have to run about a half of a mile to a designated area containing a well-hidden chest full to the brim with gold-wrapped chocolates and other treats. They found it and now they are enjoying the booty!

I am in heaven enjoying the children’s eyes swallowing me with their looks hinting a question —what will be next. I love to observe their concentration at the craft table, hunched over their project, letting their imagination go, asking politely for help, showing off their finished project; I love to see how dutifully they try to imitate the dance steps, how nicely they sing, how happily they giggle when I impersonate a fairy-tale character. All of this gives me meaning, warm feeling inside, contentment that I found what makes me feel alive, needed and inspired. My parents loved to work for community, putting on poetry performances, theatre production, lectures and such in our small Czech-Austrian-Slovakian border town. Who would ever dreamed that one day a fate will blow me over the ocean to this New World where I happily continue in their footsteps.

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