Little kids are pretty remarkable creatures, in more ways than one. And in those early years — when they’re still so sweet and innocent and doe-eyed — they’re forever reminding us of just how untainted they are by the world around them. In that small sliver of time known as early childhood, they often remain blissfully unaware of the pressures that await them in adulthood, just as they should be.
And sometimes, seeing the world through their rose-colored glasses can teach us somewhat cynical grown-ups a thing or two.
Such was certainly the case for Baltimore, Maryland mom Ayanna Toye Barrows, last week. While vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with her nearly 4-year-old daughter Cyrah, they happened to meet another little 4-year-old as they walked along the beach: a boy named Carson, from North Carolina.
What happened next, as Barrows later wrote on Facebook, would touch her heart in unexpected ways.
In her post, Barrows shared:
“My daughter and I are in Myrtle Beach taking a sunset walk when this adorable and sweet little boy comes walking right up to her. He shares with her the shark tooth around his neck. He tells her his name and asks her name to which she tells him. They part ways while saying goodbye, walking in the opposite direction.
“A few minutes later he comes running back, in what seems to be in slow motion, yelling out my daughter’s name,” Barrows continued. “She turns around and is greeted by his smile. So they share a few words, mainly about his super cool shark’s tooth that apparently gave him powers.”
“Before they walked, talked and raced, I asked his mother for permission to take this picture and this was the result. No one positioned them, told them to smile and there was absolutely no hesitation on their part at all. When we finished walking and it was time to go they hugged for a long time and exchanged about 20 ‘goodbyes'”
The sweet moment would probably have been left at just that — an adorable chance encounter between two friendly kids, who in that very kid-like way, became instant besties on the beach.
But the moment itself represented so much more to Cyrah’s mom, something she knew she wouldn’t soon forget it. As she now tells Babble, she kept thinking of the image in the photograph she took, and of what it all meant — of how different the two children appear on the outside (Carson is white, while Cyrah is African-American and West Indian); yet how similar they truly are within.
That’s when Barrows took to Facebook and shared her story with the world.
“This is a moment that we humans understand as just simply seeing no color lines, no judgement, no race, no hate, no shades,” she continued in her post. “It’s just pure … two kids meeting on a sunset walk without a care in the world … all they saw was each other. This world would be a much better place if we acted like these two kids.”
In the days since, her post has swiftly gone viral — it’s been liked over 100 times, shared over 215,000, and generated dozens of comments.
Speaking with Babble, Barrows opens up about how surreal and amazing it’s been to watch the story go viral, and touch people all over the world.
“[The response] has been so positive, and that’s what’s been so uplifting about the entire post,” she says. “From comments on Facebook to private messages, I’ve received hundreds of similar stories from all over the USA and as far as Australia, South Africa, England, and everything else in between. People have even shared their own personal photos, which has been the coolest.”
While Cyrah and Carson are still slightly unaware of their viral fame, according to Barrows (they are just four after all), they have not forgotten each other. Barrows shares that she and Carson’s mom have connected via Facebook and their kids even recently had their first long-distance playdate over FaceTime.
In the meantime, the adorable way their budding friendship first began will continue to inspire, thanks to the power of the Internet. And that, Barrows shares, was her intent all along.
“This post was for [any] adults/parents who may have needed a reminder on how the innocence of children should be preserved, and how we should all just let kids be kids,” Barrows tells Babble.
“I never want my child to experience a situation where another child doesn’t want to play with her because of the color of her skin,” she continues. “Though I can’t stop it, I still would not want that for her, or for any person.”