Tuesday, January 8, 2013


“Are there are going to be presents there for us?” 
“Is one of those under the tree for me?” 
“Hey! That’s my bear!”

The holidays are a time for gathering with friends and family and being grateful to be surrounded by those we care for most. Right?  Well, what I never knew as a parent is how that philosophy is something taught.  As our holiday break came to a close, and the walls of our house seemed to get smaller and smaller, I could feel this level of ungrateful and unkind behavior growing between the four of us.  Mallory and Mikayla had played together for 10 straight days, they were overscheduled and under slept and their moods showed every bit of this.  Their fuses were short with each other and their tone of voices did not ring nice. I was tired and I will admit, cranky at times.  I was as overscheduled as they were and I just wanted to be shown a little bit of gratitude for all the work I had done over the last month to make it all happen. Our bellies were full of great food and super yummy cookies.  The girls toy boxes were plenty plump as Santa and family were very generous.  I longed to hear the words “You are the best sister in the world!” or
“Thanks so much for all the hard work mom!!” 

Now don’t get me wrong, I have a couple of great kids.  And I need to be upfront and say that Brent and I are parents that require an “Eye Contact Thank You” when one of the girls receives a gift from somebody else.  That being said, I feel as if we need to do more.  We need to feel that thankfulness to our core.  We need to extend to others with kindness and gratitude before the gift is given.

What has become even more evident is that Brent and I
need to be the one to teach this value to our girls.

The dictionary's definition of Kindness reads: The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.    We needed some of that in our house.  My favorite part about the definition is that it starts out with Quality.  I want that quality to be part of who we are.  This tiny family of four, when being remembered by others, my hope is that kindness will become a part of our definition. 

I started to do some soul-searching and decided that making this happen around New Years was perfect timing.  It is our mission in 2013 to spread random acts of kindness to those around us.  We are starting small…within the walls of this house.  For if we become immersed in random acts between the four of us, united we may just be able to move a few small mountains. 

Sounds superb doesn’t it? It is a great idea. And one that, if done correctly, could change who we are.  The big question was, How in the world do I teach random acts of kindness to my kids?  If I tell them how to be kind, it becomes un-random, just a plea to be polite.  As I was rinsing an empty mayonnaise jar one day, it came to me.  Catch them in the act and reward the behavior. Fill this jar with random acts.  Watching the jar fill up, will encourage more of the same behavior. 

From the there the idea snowballed…  It all came together.  I sat down with Brent and told him what I was thinking.  He was in. That night at dinner we talked about it with the girls and we introduced the jar.  We came up with ideas on how the girls thought they could fill the jar. I also helped put a few ideas down and geared it around behavior I felt needed to change.


We also came up with a few rules.  A very important rule is that you may not ask if your kind behavior deserves a rock. It has to be caught by someone else and pointed out.  I also knew that with positive behaviors, will come the negative ones.  Therefore, we made a rule that if an unkind behavior was caught, the unkind person
would have to take a rock out of the jar. 


Fifty medium size rocks need to be placed in the jar until it becomes full.  What happens when the jar is full?    When it stays full for an entire day we are rewarded as a family.   One HUGE rule for the reward—it has to be free and we have to do it together.   We came up with things like; A family movie night with popcorn.  A trip to the library where we all get to pick out a few books, followed by quiet time at home to read those books.  Picnic on the family room floor in front of the fireplace.  And finally, a sure to be favorite, head to the animal shelter to snuggle a few dogs and cats.  The more random acts of kindness we do, the quicker the jar gets filled up. It is that easy.

We are 7 days into our Counting Kindness mission and it has been an interesting ride already.  The girls have both been sick so being kind, when you feel like crap, isn’t always easy.  Each girl has had their fair share of taking a few rocks out, but all in all it has gone really well.  They are so proud when they add a rock and so disappointed when they are asked to take one out. It took me a few days to realize that a random act of kindness for Mikayla may look completely different than one for Mallory.  I also need to remember that this is NOT a behavior modification, this is designed to grow kindness.  To find those moments, keeps me on my toes.  We’ve also had a couple of monumental moments in just seven short days.  They took Brent and I’s breath away, and those are what I hope we continue to repeat. 


My year long goal for this project will change in a few ways.  As random acts become easier (Lord, I hope it becomes easier), the rocks will become smaller, therefore taking more to fill our jar.  I also hope that we continue to talk about kindness and how it affects others, and thus take it out into our neighborhood and community. 
This is big.  And we are going to do it.  Together.

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