If you’ve ever tried taking a photo with a King’s Guard in London, you know they’re not supposed to move and goof around with you. But a member of the King’s Guard recently broke the protocol and touched many hearts with his kind move. As a boy with Down syndrome approached for a photo, the guard casually moved closer to him.
I admire the guards as they manage to stay calm and composed while hundreds of people approach them each day to take a photo with them. Some of them get too close or go overboard (which reminded me of that Mr. Bean sketch). Anyhow, this oy and his minder, Mike van Erp, were nothing like that.
Mike and the boy stood further away from the guard and posed for a photo, respecting the boundaries and personal space. But then the guard took a big step toward them to get closer. They seemed a bit shocked at first but quickly realized that it was a so small, yet so big, act of kindness.
As soon as they took the photo, Mike and the boy stood behind the camera and you can hear someone commenting, “such a nice guy.” You can also see some more of the tourists approaching the guard for the photo, but he didn’t repeat the same thing.
On Twitter, Mike explained why this was such a big deal to the people who didn’t quite understand. “The Guards are known for strictly following protocol, and because we gave him respect, he went well above and beyond the call of duty and made an effort on behalf of Ibrahim,” he wrote. “That kindness touched a lot of people and made them feel super emotional. I too had tears in my eyes.”
Mike also cleared up some confusion about the boy’s condition and their relationship. “The young lad isn’t autistic, he has Down’s syndrome,” Mike wrote. “I’m also not his dad, although I’d be proud to be.”
For me, this video is an important reminder of two major things. One, even the smallest act of kindness can make someone’s day, make them feel happy, validated, and seen. Even if it’s making just a step toward someone, literally or figuratively. And two, respecting someone’s boundaries and giving them space is important – they’ll know how to cherish it and reward you for it.