Thursday, April 26, 2012

International Pay It Forward Day

Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” 

Today you get a bonus post. This is International Pay It Forward Day. Ever heard of it? I hadn't. But once I did, I thought it an absolutely fabulous idea. Service to others is important to me, to both hubby and I. It is the basis of both of our professions.

Kindness and doing things for others is something that we talk a lot about in our family. But, outside of donating toys to other kids or the kid helping my mom do "the bread run" from the local Kro.ger to a homeless shelter, it isn't something we've really put into practice in ways that our boys can really get what we're talking about.

So, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to really start to drive this point home for our boys, especially the kid. He is now old enough to really understand. And, while baby E is too little to get it, it was also important that he be involved, to lay that foundation.

So, what would we do? I was really looking for something that would help the kid be able to concretely see that his actions specifically made a difference, however small, in someone else's life. I thought and thought and came up with a few ideas. But none of them seemed quite right. And then it dawned on me. If my intention is to help the kid understand the importance of doing things for others, why not ask him? Why not have him come up with an idea for what he can do for others? I mean, he is a remarkably empathetic child (if I do say so myself). I suspected he could think of something perfect.

And, you know what's funny, my boy taught me something. The convo this morning went a little something like this:
M: Hey, tell me why it's important for us to do things for other people.
K: Duh, it's the right thing to do.
M: But, why?
K: Duh, because we should take care of other people.
M: And why else?
K: Well, obviously, because God wants us to take care of other people. And we do that, momma, all the time.
M: How do we do that?
K: Well, we took our friends cupcakes when they were sad because the baby in Ms K's belly died and went to heaven. They were sad and we wanted them to know we were thinking about them. And we took Ms JE a card when she had surgery, to make her smile. And you're taking your other friend dinner because she has a new baby at her house. Also we gave our extra bed and dressers to a family who needed them. And we didn't even know those people. We do it lots of ways, momma. But, you know, we can always do it more. Because I like helping people.
M: What other ways would you like to do it, bug?
K: (silence, crickets chirping...)

Conversation to be finished this afternoon, while we're doing something for others (to be revealed later!)

Today's lesson:
"You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others - something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it."  ~ Albert Schweitzer

My lesson for the day was this - sometimes, as parents, we do things right. There are many times when I screw up. I mean, many times. But, at least in this one thing, I (and hubby of course) have gotten it right.

It starts with our children. Today, I'm headed out with the kid to do something for others, which I'll clue you in on later (so we don't ruin the surprise). What will you do today, on International Pay It Forward Day, to teach our children the importance of doing something for others?


Kristin said...

It is so awesome that you are teaching this to your kids so early on. I was raised in a home where my Dad worked for a nonprofit for many years so doing for others was something that has always been a part of my life. I have been taking my step-daughter with me to volunteer for years now and James will start doing the same this summer when our next event comes up! I think it gives our kids something that many people are lacking today, empathy.

Elizabeth said...

Wow- what an amazing and inspiring conversation. I really hope to instill empathy and a desire to help others in my kids. My SIL has done a fantastic job in this area with her kids- our niece actually came up with the idea of doing a pet food drive for our local animal shelter instead of gifts for her birthday party this year!

Emms said...

Wow, it's amazing the things that kids pick up on, isn't it? I can't wait to hear what you guys did! I'll have to remember this for next year as I'm just now getting to this post....

Alex said...

Love this conversation! Way to go, mama!

Peg said...

I'm waiting on pins and needles to see what you did!!! Good job mommy!!

JE Melton said...

I love your kid. And his baby brother, and his Momma and Poppa. But especially him.