Even kids can Do One Nice Thing

Last week I put my on my repressed little kid artist hat and painted some faces for a good cause. A good friend of The Pea and her mother have put together a wonderful program for residents of a nearby homeless shelter. This kid is a smart and compassionate little cookie, and she realizes that not every child gets to have a fancy birthday party with clowns and cupcakes. So she and her mother organized a Birthday Club where they invite friends to host birthday parties each month for kids at the shelter. Hosts provide cupcakes and pizza and tableware and decorations, and they take donations of gently used books so that each birthday child gets a nicely wrapped book as a present.

When I heard about this program, I knew I wanted to participate. When I was little and my birthday rolled around, my parents would always take us to the local orphanage to distribute ice cream cones to the children, and I always thought it was a wonderful way to teach children that blessings can be shared. I saw this as the perfect way to continue the tradition with my own children -- but quite honestly, we don't have the money to be hosting this kind of thing. So I offered to attend the party and paint children's faces, because I know every kid loves to have their face painted, and even though we don't have as much money as the people living around us, I can still contribute my time and talents and set an example of community service to my kids.

I have to say, I was delighted to find that the party -- and the face painting -- was a huge success. My table was mobbed! I stayed way past the party end time because there were still children asking to have their faces painted. I even painted the faces of some of the children of the party hosts. The children were all so excited, from the moment they began leafing through my books of designs, to sitting still (well, not so still) while I painted their face, to looking in the mirror and seeing the designs on their faces for the very first time. It was wonderful to see, and I was happy to be a part of such a special event. And I was happy that my kids were seeing me and the other moms doing something nice for other kids.

But believe it or not, even though this post is almost over and I've been blathering about myself, this post is not about the One Nice Thing that I did. Almost an hour after I was scheduled to finish up, I finally packed my painting kit up and called my kids to come with me and head for the car. When Jammy, who had been playing soccer with the other kids, heard that we were going home, his face crumpled.

Me: What's wrong, honey? It's really late, and we have to go home!

Jammy: But I don't want to go home yet! I want you to paint my face!

Me: I didn't know you wanted me to paint your face. You should have lined up, just like all the other kids.

Jammy (now crying in earnest): But I wanted to let all the kids who've never had their faces painted go first. I kept looking over to where you were and you were always painting someone else's face.

Me: Honey, I'm really sorry, but it's going to be your bedtime soon, and we have to go.

Jammy (wails): But I wanted my face painted!

Me (holding Jammy close and whispering): That was a very nice thing you did, letting everyone else go first, and I'm sorry I don't have enough time to paint your face today. But you know, Jammy, I can paint your face anytime. These children don't get very many chances to have their faces painted, and so today is for them.

Jammy (after a pause, sniffling and holding back a sob): Okay, mama, you can paint my face some other time.

I'm so proud of my son.

This post was inspired by Debbie Tenzer's Do One Nice Thing, September's choice for the Silicon Valley Moms book club. Click here to see other posts inspired by the book.

1 comment:

Erica Cosgrove said...

Love the post, and good for you and your friends who dreamed up this event. It sounds great and very touching. Maybe I could get my kids to participate some time too.