Today being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wanted to teach my kids some of his lessons to love each other, contributing to the good of humanity and that small actions yield big power. I asked each child to dream up a random act of kindness that we could do. After a few suggestions, my daughter announced plans to buy gift cards for 20 people at Bullseye. While I appreciate her generosity, I wanted the impact of the experience to linger longer. To require more creativity and effort, I restricted their choices to free gestures.
Then the 10- and 7-year old objections flooded out. They wanted to relax and their friends get to enjoy their day off. They whined about me forcing today’s deadline and were resilient to my anxiety over having held us accountable to social media. My disappointment grew with each protest. I expressed my discontent and laid down the worst punishment for them on their sunny day off from school – cleaning their rooms!
My goal was to reopen discussions after a 15-minute cool down. Either guilt, or the calming zen of methodically going through things, took over. Both kids went through every toy bin sorting, organizing, and tossing – with minimal input from me! When my son left for music lessons after 3 hours, my daughter and I finished her room, moving around furniture with her insisting on helping push. It was a great exercise in valuing ourselves enough to sort through crap, get rid of clutter, rearranging the flow of things, out with the old, in with the new – all that. While it wasn’t the lesson I planned to teach, I love that they ended the long weekend proud of their accomplishments and with new excitement for their space.
We came up with random acts of kindness to do soon. We baked cookies with some recipients in mind. We bought wax paper to make stained glass crafts (and to thin out our crayon box) for sunny gifts. Since King, Jr.’s lessons were to be used in every day of our lives, the deadline proved to be less significant than the forthcoming results. Commit any Random Acts of Kindness or learn unexpected lessons?