There’s a boy who I love very much at Proniño. Well, there’s a lot of boys I love very much at Proniño. Actually, I love all the boys very much at Proniño. But today I’m talking about Javier in specific.
Javier is not someone I expected to find myself loving. Not because of any bad reason, he was nice and adorable, but he wasn’t very approachable. At Proniño things kind of go like this:
1. Walk four steps
2. Get hugged by a boy
3. Walk another four steps
4. Get hugged by a different boy
5. Repeat steps 1-4
The picture on the left is, as my friend Jilli says, the epitome of Pronino. So pretty much you knew everybody you hugged and love them to death because their just so squishy or some other adorable reason. There are a few boys at the center that aren’t so “I’m going to maul you every four steps you take”. These boys tend to blend into the background. To those of us that visit once or twice, these boys aren’t memorable and even seem like they could be new to the center or something. They don’t get that much attention.
For me, Javier was one of those boys. I never saw him my first trip down there and didn’t know him, care about him, or remember him. I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know him for a very long time if it wasn’t for a super awesome opportunity I got to have.
When I was at Proniño in October I volunteered to “escort/watch over/make sure no one runs away” the kids going to a painting/music class at the library. Peña was one of those kids so of course he dragged me with him onto the truck and I went along. Of course me in my 120 lb has-absolutely-no-muscle-or-agility-and-is-super-out-of-shape glory thought, “I’m going to be totally screwed if one of them tries to run away.” So I immediately scanned the truck for questionnables. Misael: hilarious, my buddy, older and matured, he’ll be fine. Mario: quiet, respectful, extremely nice (and later found out he was quite the artist!), not a problem. I did this with every kid until I stopped on Javier.
Then I was like, who the heck is this kid? He’s obviously not new, he’s from Amor y Paz (a house for the older, matured but still younger kids) so he had to have been there before, but I hadn’t remembered him at all. So I watched him like a hawk. Of course he thought my anxiety was hysterical so at the library he proceeded to jump out a window (it wasn’t very high) and pretend to walk away.
I started sweating buckets and kept saying “Haha, nice joke Javier, come back in, please!!” I was on the window sill nearly about to jump out myself when he said, “Kaylie it’s a joke” and came back in. Yeah, great joke Jav. The rest of the time at the library we bonded through great practical jokes of running away. More like Javier and the others pretending to run away while I lost my mind but at the same time enjoyed hanging out with them.
From then on he became one of those kids that hugged me every four steps. It wasn’t until my recent trip there that I saw the old Javier again, the one I couldn’t remember. When I arrived I was jumped on, hugged, and tugged at by pretty much every boy there. I saw Javier out of the corner of my eye, just going about his business and not really putting in an effort to jump on me or anything.
Naturally I was immediately distracted by the 10 other boys jumping on my back and tugging at my arms that I let it go. I felt like Javier didn’t know whether or not to hug me, whether or not he was good enough to be like those other kids to me. He needed reassurance that I wanted to attack him with hugs as much as he wanted to attack me with hugs. Later on that day I realized that my guess was right. As soon as I called out “Javier!” to him his face lit up, his smile got huge, and we ran to each other and hugged. All he needed was that one little word of reassurance to be able to love me just as much as last time and be loved by me in return.
The rest of my week pretty much was the same encounter, except with a twist. He’ll always pretend he hates me and will call me “mala” which means bad, and then make me chase him down and tickle him until he’s hugging me back and is saying its just joke. Every day our taxi came he’d stand by the gates squinting and shouting, “KAYLIE!” and wait until I replied “JAVIER!”. As soon as he heard my reply his face would just light up into this amazing smile. Every time I saw that crazy beautiful smile I’d think to myself, this kid is the best. You never know how great someone is until you give them a chance. Leaving my comfort zone when it comes to the boys I know will immediately love me was probably the best choice I’ve ever made.
Javier even managed to get me into the super cool tweenager-early teens group at Pronino. Just look at them, they radiate with coolness!
Gerardo, so ticklish that all you need to know is poke him and he’ll burst into laughter.
Also winner of hardest name to pronounce/spell.