Piggyback Pride

Until a few days ago, I had never given a piggyback ride. I’m so quiet that children often don’t think of asking me for them, and I wasn’t about to offer one because I am not at all athletic. I suspected that piggyback rides were one of those things that “everyone” is strong enough to do but that I wouldn’t be able to manage.

Besides, I had miraculously learned to operate a canoe without capsizing the day before, and didn’t want to push my luck.

Maria and her Fall Break group

However, five minutes before my service group left the Urban Ecology Center for good, ten-year-old Jason asked me, “Can I ride on your back?”

“Sure!” I said jovially, as if I gave piggyback rides every day.

I didn’t immediately drop the boy or fall over, but I soon began to worry that I was failing after all. I was supporting too much of his weight with my left arm, and I could feel him shifting every few seconds, trying to get a better grip, and wondered if that meant I was doing something wrong and he was too polite to complain.

As I continued, he felt heavier and heavier and my arm started to hurt. If I had been carrying anything else, I probably would have felt incapable of continuing and stopped long before, no matter who scoffed at my weakness. For some reason, though, I couldn’t bear to disappoint him.

Only when we reached the Urban Ecology Center and he called out, cheerfully, “You can put me down now!” did I lower him to the ground, feeling that I’d passed an important test.

When he asked me for a lift, I don’t think he could have meant to do me a favor, to make me feel included and useful, or to show me that I was stronger than I thought I was, but that’s what he did. Knowing that a friendly, cute, outgoing kid who was getting plenty of attention from other people had noticed me and decided he could depend on me for a favor not only raised my self-esteem, but also inspired me to live up to his opinion of me.

Now I know that when I’m motivated enough, I can do things that formerly seemed impossible, and I don’t have an excuse for not trying.

Maria Benevento
2015 Graduate
Major: Theology and American Studies
Host Site: CapCorps, Milwaukee


The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.