Last week I saw an opportunity to involve my kids in an act of kindness and to help other people, and now, I only wish I would have done it sooner.
My kids have super powers at being ultra observant these days; they don’t miss any detail big or small. Like the candy I keep in the front pocket of my diaper bag as a bargaining chip or how I mix extra vegetables into the spaghetti sauce on pasta night.
It’s when I think they aren’t paying attention, that they tend to surprise me the most.
On this morning, we were on our way to school and stopped at a red light. As I looked right, I saw a couple with their dog sitting near the street corner. The woman had propped a cardboard sign asking for food for their dog, not even food for themselves. Even though I was two cars over from the where they sat, I could see how worn and dirty their clothes were.
I also knew I didn’t have anything to offer them.
“Mom, they don’t have food. Do you have anything?”
My eyes lifted and I caught my son looking at me in the rearview mirror. Only seconds before he was bickering with his sister who wanted to trade a toy car for a dinosaur and he wasn’t having it. I hadn’t thought he was paying attention to anything outside of the car.
“Sorry bud, I don’t have anything today.”
It’s not unusual to see displaced people with signs on traffic corners where we live. I often have extra snacks for the kids in my car and sometimes cash to give them. And I do give to them when we have it because I want my kids to see that I extend kindness to others. I want them to learn this is the right thing to do.
In our family we often talk about how fortunate we are; we have a nice home, refrigerator full of food, cars that run and work that affords us some simple luxuries from time to time.
“Will you bring them something when you come to pick us up from school?”
“Sure, I’ll throw some things in my bag.”
I was touched by his suggestion, but it also got my wheels spinning.
And I had a bold idea….
I INVOLVED MY KIDS
I saw the couple in the same spot when I drove past them on the way to school pick-ups and while I wasn’t sure my son would remember them from that morning, it was the first thing he asked when he climbed in the car.
“Did you give the people food today?” This tender-hearted boy of mine never stopped surprising me.
Once I picked the kids up from school, we drove to the grocery store.
“We’re actually going to the grocery store to pick out some food to bring to them. Since you had the idea, I want you to be in charge of giving it to them.”
A typical trip to the store usually elicits grunts and crossed arms of indignation. But not this time.
At the store, the twins picked out sandwiches, apples, bottles of water and a bag of dog food. It filled two grocery bags and they couldn’t hold back their excitement from sharing with the check-out clerk about their plans for the food.
I drove across the street and let the kids get out with me, to deliver the food in person.
“We brought you something so you’re not hungry.” My son acted a little timid but walked over and handed the bags to the woman.
She looked confused. She looked at the full grocery bags in his hands, looked back towards me and finally took them from him.
“You did this for us?” My son may have not caught the quiver in her voice, but it was unmistakable.
“Yeah, we saw you this morning and I really liked your dog.”
My heart melted and puddled at my feet and it took me a moment to regain my composure. The feelings of pride and gratitude at his altruism crushed me.
I feel so proud of the kind and sweet kids I am raising.
IT’S ABOUT DOING, NOT JUST SHOWING
Normally when we walk into a store – especially a grocery store – I hear “can I have,” or “I want this,” but on this day, the only people they thought of were the man and woman sitting on the street corner asking for food for their dog.
That afternoon, I could have easily brought a couple snacks and water to give them myself through the car window. Instead, I saw an opportunity to let my kids understand how good it feels to help other people.
Teaching kids about kindness and decency for human life isn’t just learned from watching Mom and Dad, it’s taught by doing. When I let my kids pick out the food and give it to the couple themselves in an act of good will, I saw that it was immeasurably more impactful to them.
If you get the chance to do something – no matter how small or big – for another person, look to see if there is an opportunity for your kids to be involved.
The reward isn’t for the other person, it’s for your sons and daughters.
My kids continue to ask how we can help other people. I created this Free Printable that lists 20 simple acts of kindness for kids to do at home, in their neighborhood and at school.
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