I've been thinking a lot about what I want my boys to learn from what I'm doing and why I am doing it. My oldest son is not a fan of my running...well at least my running without him anyway. ;) He is really good at getting my mommy guilt going, yet I leave the house and run anyway. I try to show them how important it is to help others. We donate supplies to the local animal shelter. We recently ran a kid's race for the Special Olympics and we put money in the Salvation Army bucket every time. I hope that these small things help them realize they can make a difference.
I want them to be the kind of kids (and adults) who see something that isn't fair or see someone hurting and try to help. They don't need to solve the problems of the world. For me, asking someone who trips if they're ok, helping someone who has dropped something rather than laughing, or setting up a lemonade stand for a cause important to them is more than enough. I hope that they are strong enough to defend someone who can't defend themselves from hurtful actions or words...on the playground, in the classroom, on the playing field.
I think about the world today and it doesn't seem to spew kindness. I stopped watching the news when I had kids and realized how much crazy shit goes on in the world around us. It might sounds corny, but a little kindness goes a long way. One of my favorite inspirational stories that has saved me on many a "banging my head off the wall" kind of days as a teacher is this one:
While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.
He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”
And making a difference in the life of one person is a beautiful thing. :)