I can tell my kids lots of things, but what I do matters more.
Kylie inspired me this week. This creative and kind fourth grader at our school came up to me with a huge smile and handed me a custom key chain. “Here is one for you, Mr. Jackson. I made these!” Well first of all, the key chain itself is rad. It’s has “Bulldogs” stitched onto a long shiny slip of leather material… a great way to show off our mascot.
Even sweeter than the actual gift was the reason she made it. In a little pouch that Kylie held in her hands were a whole bunch more of these key chains. They were different colors and had a variety of stitching shades. I asked her, “What are all those for?” Her response was perfect, “I made these to sell to people. The money goes to our class Compassion student.”
Each classroom at school sponsors an international student through Compassion International. The children send letters and encouragement back and forth, and our students are responsible to bring money in for their sponsorship. This then helps that child and their family by providing medical assistance, school uniforms, and resources for parents. We presently support children in El Salvador, Kenya, the Philippines, and several more.
The thought behind this situation at our school is not solely to raise money, or to have a pen-pal overseas. The main thing we are trying to do is plant seeds of compassion and empathy in our students that will stay with them forever. One day, we hope to see adults who see needs and take action.
Kylie gets it! Somewhere along the way, she has seen, heard, and been inspired to HELP. I’m sure that some of this came from school, but I’m convinced that the biggest factor for her is that she has parents who care, act with others in mind, and share kindly. It’s no accident that her mother guided her in creating these inventive pieces. Mom is not only saying what is right, but doing it.
Us parents talk a whole lot. We repeatedly tell our kids how they should and shouldn’t act, how we’d like them to treat people, and also that they should stop bickering with each other in the backseat of the car. No one, actually everyone, probably feels so often that those bundles of joy are just not listening! But… they are always watching. I can say all kinds of stuff, but what I do matters more. If I tell them to be honest, then lie about their age to get a discount at a movie… they notice. If I encourage them to be flexible, then yell around the house when things aren’t just right… they notice. Even when I ask them to be polite, then treat the server at a restaurant like trash… they most certainly notice.
Kylie and her family taught me three lessons this week. One, compassion and empathy are qualities that make kids better people. Two, the best way to develop any trait in my kids is to show it to them. Finally, Kylie is fantastic at making bulldog key chains. I believe I can be an improved parent with the first two lessons. The third lesson… I’ll leave the key chain creating to Kylie.