I like helping people, but I hate recognition for it. Seriously, if I do something nice to you, the WORST way to repay me is to find me in a crowd and loudly exclaim how wonderful it was and then proceed to tell the gathered crowd what I did. I will want to kill you at that point. The fact is, doing kind things for others makes me happy and is it’s own reward. I like making people happy and that’s just about it.
I’m trying to teach my kids to do this, by being a living example of kindness to others. I say please and thank you, I hold open doors for people, and sometimes I do nice things for people we know or even strangers.
For example, this past weekend I went to a BBQ for the board members of our co-op preschool. While there, I started talking to the main teacher there who has been working there for practically forever. I love this woman. She is hilarious and is so knowledgeable about kids that age. She is amazing. During this conversation, I mentioned that I enjoy baking (I do, it’s kinda of a problem, like I need to go to meetings or something) and SHE said she was looking for a good scone recipe. Well, come Tuesday, I remember that and I happen to have a good scone recipe, so I made some orange cranberry scones from scratch, wrapped them up, bundled the kids into the car, and drove to her house. Elizabeth got to see her teacher and hear her thanks and watch the whole giving and receiving exchange. It was wonderful.
Sometimes at the check out line at the grocery store, I get a gift card and put $15 on it, sometimes $10, and ask the checker to use it for the guest behind me. This is the perfect scenario for me. I make someone’s day and I get to flee the scene before they know what’s happening. The most I have to deal with is the checker telling me how awesome it is. Please, checker, shhhhhhh. Once at Trader Joe’s, one employee found me a week after I had done this and proceeded to tell me that the gift card had paid not only for the person behind me, but the person behind THEM and how WONDERFUL it was. I just kept edging away, smiling, wondering if she would chase me if I ran.
I give away my never to be used again baby stuff to people who will use it. I could sell it, but this stuff is so expensive. I enjoy knowing that someone who needs it can have it, for free, no strings attached. I have given away strollers, car seats, high chairs, clothes and toys. SO MANY clothes and toys. Oh, and a breast pump, the accompanying parts, and a diaper bag. I have one of those stand and play things in my garage if anyone needs it. 🙂 When I go through the girls toys to determine what goes and what stays, I tell them what’s happening and that other boys and girls who can’t afford this stuff are going to get it.
Kindness is something that you don’t see every day. Not everyone practices it. It does exist. I cannot tell you the number of times someone has held a door for me as I juggle two kids and three drinks on my way out of Starbucks, or picked something up for me after Josie drops it and I don’t realize it. But very very rarely do you see someone just do something because it’s kind. It doesn’t have to be much or expensive. Sometimes it’s just paying attention and then giving someone something they mentioned in passing they wanted. In an age of entitlement (so many kids are raised feeling they deserve everything first and now), I’m trying to teach my kids to see that they are lucky, that making people happy can be it’s own reward. Pay it forward, pass it on, practice good karma. It takes too much energy to be hateful or rude. It never hurts to be polite or kind first. Ever. Be kind, be polite, and practice good karma.