Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Killing Them With Kindness

One random day this summer, my kids were in rare form.

The fighting and bickering in this house between my shorties had reached epic levels, and I was handing out punishments and time-outs like they were Tic-Tacs. Mentally exhausted from a day of breaking up fights, and playing the role of referee, I decided that we would all sit down to a family dinner.

Nothing like a little Triple F to try to set things straight again.

Triple F?

Forced Family Fun.


We strive to eat together as a family as much as our busy schedules permit, but in summer I tend to be more lax, because I know that my kids like to eat and run. The faster they can shove the food down their gullets, the faster they can get back outside to play with their friends. 

But on this particular day, after hearing, "You're a buttface/idiot/poopyhead/[insert immature insult HERE] I said, "It's time for dinner, and you're not leaving this table until you have been excused. We are going to sit here and eat as a family."

A chorus of whines ensued.

Fortunately, I am the Teflon of whines. They roll right off of me. 

I began, "So. Let's talk about our days. What was your favorite thing you did today?"

Cue chorus of shortie grunts.

"Anyone? I'm talking here, you guys."


Bill spoke positively about his day.

The shorties chewed their food.

I spoke about a happy moment in my day.

The shorties chewed their food.

I switched gears. "Okay. How about we go around the table and each person says one thing they like about each member of our family, okay?"

Cue chorus of shortie whines.

"You guys, we are going to do this, whether you like it or not. I cannot STAND the way you talk to each other! Just say at least ONE thing you like about your brothers or your sister. NOW." 

"Mommmm. This is weird." 

I pointed at a shortie and recruited him to be the first one to speak. He shoveled a forkful of food in his mouth, chewed as his thought, and said, "Okay. H is awesome because he can fart on demand. And G's farts don't smell that awful, so I guess that makes him kinda cool. And I can burp when I want, so that makes me awesome."

Then they all burst into a fit of giggles.


I give up.

Eventually, after much threatening to put them to bed early cajoling, I was able to get them to say at least one nice thing about each other, and the conversation at the dinner table that night was a mildly good one. All I had wanted them to do was to take a minute away from the bickering, and just be nice.

Even if it hurt. 

Which it seemed like it did. At least for awhile.

It is sometimes difficult living in this house of 6 people with 6 distinct personalities and expect us to get along famously 100% of the time.


But we are a family, and our common bond is our love for each other, and despite the running commentary on certain days of the week around here, not one of us is a butt face. 

Shocking, I know.

So when I broached the subject of our family participating in a Random Acts of Christmas Kindness project this year, I expected whining from the shorties. I don't know why I expected whining. Perhaps I have just grown accustomed to whining when I want to introduce something new, and I automatically prepare myself. 

I was pleasantly surprised when, after explaining it, they smiled.


I got a, "That's cool, Mom," from my oldest.

Another shortie chimed in, "This is fun!"

I almost fainted. 

Tween angst has spoken, and it has decided that this project sounds, "cool", and "fun"?



The shorties started coming up with ideas on their own, after I gave them a few examples of what would constitute a Random Act of Kindness. They were excited! Giddy! About kindness! And being random about it! 


We decided that our first RACK as a family (Bill was at work, so he missed out) would be to get Holiday Mint McFlurries from the McDonald's drive-thru after school, then pay for the order behind us in line.

Isn't that just so sweet and unselfish of them? 

To sacrifice for the sake of a good RACK? 

By forcing themselves to get Holiday Mint McFlurries?

All for the cause?

Mother Teresa would be proud.


As we pulled into the McDonald's drive-thru line at about 3:00 pm on Tuesday afternoon, they were excited. Giddy almost. I had printed out several of these cards in preparation of the next few weeks:

(I got this idea from a super creative blogger named Tracie, and you can find her ideas and her blog here. I assure you that her cards are WAY cuter than mine.) 

Soon enough, it was our turn in line, and I placed our order at the speaker.

"Can we have 4 Holiday Mint McFlurries, please?"

"Milkshakes?" the voice in the box asked.

"No, can we have four Holiday Mint McFlurries, please?"

"You want an Oreo McFlurry?"

"No, MINT McFlurries, please." 

"You want a Mint McFlurry?"

"Yes, please. Four of them." 

"Okay. Pay at the first window."

"Thank you."

The kids were bouncing in their seats at this point, wanting to see who would be the recipient of our first RACK. We eyeballed a gold SUV pull into the drive-thru lane behind us. A woman was in the driver's seat. I was silently grateful that it wasn't a bus full of hungry football players, as I would be footing the bill for their next meal.

Not that I wouldn't have. It's all about the RACK.

I'm just saying. 

As we waited to pull forward to the window where we paid, the boys were trying to read her lips as she placed her order.

"MOM!!! I think she ordered 12 Big Mac Combo Meals!" a shortie said excitedly.

"I doubt she did, you guys, but even if she did, we've got it covered."

Finally, it was our turn. The recipient of our RACK had her window open too, and I was convinced that she could hear what I was going to say to the cashier. I leaned back in my seat and said, "Can I not only pay for my order, but the order of the lady behind me, please?"

"Really? Sure! I love when people do that!"

The kids clapped.

I continued as I handed him the RACK card, "And can you please hand her this card when you tell her that her order was paid for, please?"

"Okay! Her order was $2.99."

We pulled forward to the next window to get our Holiday Mint McFlurries, and the kids couldn't care less about the prospect of an ice cream treat. Their necks were craned and their eyes were fixed on the car behind us, waiting to see the reaction of the driver. Suddenly, they spotted her frantically waving and giving us the thumbs-up sign.


They clapped and shouted and bounced in their seats and sang a verse of a nonsense song that a couple of them had made up on a whim one day.

One shortie asked, "But Mom, don't you want her to know who you are so she can thank you?"

"Nope, sweetie. I just want to be an anonymous stranger who did something nice. I don't need a thank you. And maybe she'll go out and do something nice for someone else now, and that person will do something nice for someone else. That's kind of what we hope for. Kindness begets kindness."

I just kind of let the word, "begets" hang in the air for a second, waiting for a, "Huh? What's that?" from a shortie. But it never came.

Without being asked, the 10-year old looked at his younger brother, who looked confused. He said, "It means to produce. Like if we are kind, we will produce more kindness."

Maybe they are getting this thing.

Also? No one punched their sibling in the junk last night, so I think this project is WINNING.

I guess kindness does beget kindness.

1 comment:

  1. your RACKing family. And I love that you're back.


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