Childrens’ honesty refreshing

Life has a way of being pure in the most awkward moments. I remember sitting in the living room as a kid – watching clips of people who suddenly found themselves in less than perfect situations on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

I’d think to myself, ‘Yep, I’d do or say something like that!” as I watched hilarity ensue.

The bursts of laughter that came out of me were the kind I could feel all the way down in my toes. I was in my own zone and wasn’t thinking about growing up or how I’d react if a kid came up to me and started doing silly things in front of my face.

My older self chuckled at that thought the first time Eva, one of my three first cousins, told me I’d been “a bad girl” when I asked her if I could have one of her unopened lollipops.

She said it so adamantly that it took all I had to keep a straight face. I waited her out awhile and asked her again, at which point she gave me a funny look and said, “Mommy [my aunt] will give you one when you be a good girl!”

I turned my wheelchair on and drove away as fast as I could so Eva wouldn’t see I was dying of laughter. She knew me better than I thought – and to think I had myself convinced that she and Lily and Max, my other two first cousins – or any kid would be scared of the fact I’m in a chair – is ridiculous in hindsight.

In fact, the lollipop incident gave way to many others in which I’ve felt somewhat like Santa Claus.

The one that always comes to mind is when my best friend’s oldest daughter climbed on my chair and plopped herself onto my lap a few years ago. I didn’t think much of it – and neither did my friend. She’s been my partner in crime since high school and now has another daughter who’s just as easy-going around my chair as her sister is. I’ve become their surrogate aunt – “Aunt Ewin” as the oldest says.

Out of all the adjectives I could use to describe myself, I never thought “kid-friendly” or “good” with kids would be one of them. It certainly didn’t cross my mind that I might like little munchkins hanging off me – or that they might find my chair interesting in some way.

I never thought I’d “come of age” and watch a friend start a family – much less be a part of it. That’s becoming true of most of my friends – and the honesty of it is it’s changing me for the better.

I don’t know what changed my mind, but I’m finding that there’s something about kids that I can genuinely relate to. I think it’s a combination of their curiosity and wonder about why things are the way they are in this world – but I relate to their ability to be honest the most because most of my life is an open book.

I think honesty itself is a choice. It comes naturally when you’re young. As you get older, it becomes more like having an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. If you mimic that childlike innocence, it’s bound to have a domino effect no matter how old you are.

So, this begs the question – Why not start now?

Erin Kelly, 28, was born with cerebral palsy in Seoul, Korea, and now lives in Altoona. She is a 2009 graduate of Penn State Altoona. In addition to this monthly column for the Mirror, she writes for three online publications, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and The Mobility Resource. She works as a freelance editor in her spare time. Email her at