The Make Someone’s Day Project
This holiday season, I'm teaching my preschooler about gratitude through my actions, instead of my words.
I love this time of the year. I love the lights and decorations. I love the parties and the food. I love surprising friends and family with thoughtful gifts. What I don't love is how my child turns into the Gimme Monster. She wants every. single. toy.
Little Miss S has been working on her wish list for Santa since Thanksgiving evening. She tasked her father with "mailing" the first letter she wrote. Now she's working on Wish List 2.0. Whenever she sees an exciting toy in Target or spies the Toys R' Us toy book that I attempted to recycle too many times, she adds another item on her list. Thankfully this list mainly exists in her head since she is only learning how to read and write.
I'm sure I'm not the only parent whose kids turn into the Gimme Monster. I understand it's hard for a 5-year-old not to want toys, especially when they are bombarded by commercials, advertisements and mall Santas asking what they want for Christmas. It's just not a trait I want to encourage.
I decided this year I would teach Little Miss S about gratitude and generosity. At first the task seemed daunting, since these concepts are pretty abstract, especially for a 5-year-old. I wasn't even sure where to begin.
I then became inspired by Yahoo!'s Kindness Project, which was brought to my attention by the Yahoo! Motherboard, of which I'm a member. The Motherboard challenged our group to perform random acts of kindness this holiday season. The hope is that each random act of kindness would inspire the recipient to pass along their own random acts of kindness, therefore creating ripples of kindness. (Disclosure: Yahoo! Motherboard provided me funds for my Kindness Project.)
I dubbed our project: Make Someone's Day. Little Miss S and I purchased Starbucks gift cards to hand out when we're going about our days. Our goal was to give a randomly chosen person the unexpected gift of Starbucks. When I first explained this to Little Miss S, she didn't quite understand why we had to give away our Starbucks gift cards. My little-hot-cocoa-with-whipped-cream-please-addict wanted us to keep the cards for ourselves instead of giving them away. She actually cried at the mere thought of giving them away.
Instead of over-explaining the concept to her, we put it into practice. Our first stop of the day was White Oak Library. As we pulled into the parking lot, I brought up our kindness project again. "Whose day can we make?" I asked her. By directly involving Little Miss S, I could help build the excitement.
She chose the lucky person without hesitation. I secretly passed the gift card to Little Miss S while her favorite librarian searched for books on clouds for us. Little Miss S could barely contain her excitement. When she thrust the card at our librarian, Little Miss S was beaming.
We chose the perfect person to begin our Make Someone's Day project. Our librarian practically jumped for joy and confessed how much she loved Starbucks. She and Little Miss S further bonded as they discussed their favorite drinks from that particular coffee shop. We explained our kindness project and hoped that our librarian would feel inspired to pass along the kindness. However, there are no strings attached to our gift.
Since then, I can hear her talking about how she can "make so-and-so's day."
Now that I've given Little Miss S a taste of how fun and fulfilling it is to share random acts of kindness, I know she's ready for more. The next time we're out running errands, I'll let her pick another random person to receive a gift card. Making someone's day when it's cold and blustery outside is truly an amazing gift.
Thien-Kim Lam, who has earned the Barista badge on Foursquare for visiting too many Starbucks locations, lives in White Oak with her husband and two children. She might be addicted to Starbucks, but she knows how to stay caffeinated on a budget. Her parent columns appears on Colesville Patch each Tuesday. You can also find her blogging at I'm Not the Nanny.