Last month, I had the opportunity to teach my kids something that I hope will stay with them for a lifetime. It began with the kindness of a stranger. My husband had gone to the hardware store with some of the kids and forgotten his wallet so I headed into town to bring it to him and we spontaneously decided to eat at a restaurant. We had six of our kids with us and this was a rare treat. Near the end of our meal, a woman approached my husband and asked if she could have our bill. She told him that she wanted to pay for our family’s lunch! It was shocking and such a blessing!
The kids all took turns going to her table to thank her and on the way home, we talked about how incredible we all felt because of the kindness of this stranger. We quickly decided to pay it forward.
The next day, the kids and I brainstormed ideas for how we could pass the kindness forward and bless others the way we had been blessed. They came up with some fabulous ideas!
Over the next two weeks, we did acts of kindness every time the chance arose. I was proud to see that soon, the kids were taking initiative to come up with their own ideas such as returning the neighbour’s garbage cans, holding doors open for people or shovelling driveways.
Some of the smallest things we did seemed to have the biggest impact. At our daughter’s doctor’s office, there is an ornery man who works in the Parkade. He never smiles and is gruff and not overly friendly. The kids decided that he probably needed kindness the most. They coloured some bright pictures for him and we bought him a small package of candy. The next time we had to pay at the Parkade, the kids rolled down their windows, handed him their pictures and the candy and wished him well. He was beaming! He gushed about going home and displaying the pictures in his kitchen. We have been through his booth four times since then and each time, he lights up when he sees us and takes time to talk to the kids and thank them again for the gifts they gave him!
The kids and I talked about how it made us feel when the lady had unexpectedly paid for our lunch and how we then were feeling so blessed that we went out and blessed others. We hoped that maybe our acts of kindness would have a similar ripple effect even if just to inspire people to pass on a smile and kind word.
We taped quarters to vending machines, left pennies in places young children were sure to find them, brought people cookies, delivered cards and baking to people at their offices, handed flowers out to people who looked most like they needed them, brought a friend a canister of coffee when her Facebook status said she had run out and had been up in the night with her baby, handed candy and notes of thanks to cleaning staff in public places such as malls, brought meals to a friend going through a hard time, and paid for the people’s lunch who were behind us in the drive-through line at Tim Horton’s and left a note to be given to them. We speculated that perhaps those people would choose to pay for the people behind them and the blessings would continue to spread.
I was so happy to be able to show the kids this video shortly after our day of paying it forward where one person starting a kindness chain that spread to 228 people paying it forward! It let them imagine that the ripple effects of our acts of kindness could be exponential!