A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called, “The Magazine Gesture.” It described how simple, every day acts of kindness often mean more to people than extravagant gifts. Just to know someone is thinking about you can do more than simply brighten one’s day, it can impact someone’s life. Many of you wrote and told me of such experiences. “The Magazine Gesture” seemed to resonate with many readers.
This got me thinking about the little people in our lives. What do unexpected acts of kindness mean to them?
Right before the holidays, I had the opportunity to teach at my daughter’s preschool while the staff was treated to a luncheon. While there, I witnessed three acts of kindness created by parents for their child.
At the time, I didn’t know why I felt compelled to take pictures of these loving gestures, but I do now.
It is because these photos carry a message, and it’s a powerful one.
Children, just like adults, love unexpected little acts of kindness, too. Contrary to what we might think, these gestures need not require a large amount of money. They need not be electronic. They need not be the latest and greatest toys on the market.
They must simply come from the heart. (Sound familiar?)
And here’s a little tidbit: Children love to envision their parents thinking about them when they are apart…because there’s a good chance they are thinking about you.
Next comes the evidence. (As you know, I love displaying Hands Free Evidence that so beautifully illustrates the message of the day.)
Here is my story (and the evidence) of how something small can signify something big, in the eyes of a child…
As I stated earlier, I was acting as “teacher” for a precious group of four-year-olds. The regular teacher had left me with a detailed schedule that I was diligently trying to follow (although there were plenty of “little assistants” who loved to tell me what was coming next).
Around mid-morning, I announced that it was snack time. The children obediently went to their cubbies and pulled out their snack bags.
While most of the children immediately sat down and tore into their sacks, I noticed one little boy simply gazing at the front of his sack.
I went over to him and found him staring at this:
When look you look at this, you probably see a Christmas tree on a lunch sack.
When I look at this, I see the result of someone who went Hands Free for five minutes to bring a smile to her child’s face.
When a child looks at this, he sees this: My mom wishes she could be here to laugh and eat snacks with me. She is thinking about me. My mom loves me.
I only wish his mom could have seen the smile she put on her son’s face that remained there all morning long.
Shortly after snack, it was time to go outside for recess. As predicted, the temperature had drastically dropped during the night, so for the first time in the season children had colorful warm mittens and scarves, in addition to their puffy winter jackets.
As I helped children their zip coats, I noticed one little girl concentrating with utmost determination to insert something into the top of her mitten.
I walked over and saw these cute little pouches in her hand:
When you look at this, you probably see hand warmers.
When I look at this, I see the results of someone who took time to go Hands Free so her daughter could have toasty hands on a blustery winter day.
When a child looks at this, she sees: My mom wishes she could be here to hold hands and keep me warm. She is thinking about me. My mom loves me.
I only wish this mom could see the smile she put on her daughter’s face that remained there throughout the entire game of tag.
After recess, it was time for lunch. The children excitedly washed their hands and sat down at their tables. I watched as an array of character lunch boxes were opened. As I walked around commenting on their favorite princess or superhero, the contents of this lunch box literally stopped me mid-sentence:
When you look at this, you probably see turkey meat, a cheese stick, garden peas, and orange segments.
When I look at this, I see the results of someone who took time to go Hands Free so his child could have a wholesome, nutritious lunch.
When a child looks at this, she sees: My daddy wishes he could be fixing lunch for me right now. We always eat healthy foods together. He’s thinking about me. My Daddy loves me.
I wish this dad could see the smile he put on his daughter’s face as she gobbled up every single morsel that he lovingly packed.
In two short hours in a preschool classroom, I witnessed three loving gestures created by parents that enabled their children to feel their love, despite being apart. Furthermore, these acts were displayed in “languages” that children could see, feel, and understand. The message was as clear as the twinkle reflected in the children’s eyes: You are loved.
These gestures did not happen by accident. Someone made a point to let go of distraction long enough to make these gestures happen. These acts of kindness took time, thought, and a bit of effort.
But judging by the joyful, pleased, proud, and amazed expressions on the most adorable faces, I would say this to every parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or friend of a child:
Do it for the first time.
Do it again tomorrow.
Do it when you are “too tired.”
Do it when you are “too busy.”
Do it when you think it won’t matter.
Do it because it will matter.
Do it because it does matter.
Do it because the person on the receiving end of your simple act of kindness is a little guy or girl who makes your life worth living.
What are some of little acts of kindness that you do for your child or loved one? I would love to hear about them. Share your ideas by leaving a comment here or send me a picture by clicking the “contact me” button under my logo. Better yet, get busy figuring out what you can do to make a little person smile today!
Indiana Lori says
I so needed this message! I love it. My girls love school, but it is obvious to me that a mid-morning or afternoon hug would make a big difference. I never thought to tuck a note into Sara’s glasses case, or sneak a picture onto Kelly’s coat as I leave the classroom! LOVE IT!! Thanks!
crying as I read and happy knowing that I too value the hands-free moments and the love it brings to the most precious beings on the planet to me!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Amy. Your message makes my heart feel hopeful today. xo
Julie Sullivan says
the snack bag one made me cry! every day of kinder and now 1st grade, i have written a note on my son’s snack bag. he always looks forward to reading my words or silly drawings. and every morning as i stand there for the 2 – 3 minutes deciding what to write, i always feel rushed but know that i’m not going to stop until he tells me it’s too embarrassing. and i learned this from you…i will always wonder if this is my “last one.”
Rachel Macy Stafford says
I love this, Julie! When my students got little notes in their lunch boxes, I would see them get those most beautiful expressions on their faces. It feels good to know you are thought of in those times apart. Thank you for sharing!
We all need constant reminders to do the little things that things that aren’t the absolute necessary things, but they are the things that bring smiles and warm fuzzies when they are least expected.
I send “letters” and hand made cards, stickers and small gifts to grandchildren who are not in preschool and are home schooled. I am blessed because they call with their delight and gratitude when they receive them. I want them to always know that they have grand parents who love and miss them and are thinking of them.
It does take time (and prayer) to find Bible verses suited to them, or a spiritual lesson, or a little story, but it’s a way to reach across the miles.
Thank you so much Rachel for your heart felt, vulnerable posts that give such deep insight.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Jeaneen, your message brings a huge smile to my face. Just thinking about you taking the time and the love to let your grandchildren know they are being thought of is so uplifting. It is amazing the impact of finding a letter in the mailbox addressed to them will have on children. My sister sends my kids stickers and cards quite often. It brings them so much joy! Your grandchildren are very blessed! Thank you for taking time to share and for your kind comments about my writings. It means so much!
I have been spending the last few days readung your posts in order – its a great new addiction. Its funny as both babes are in bed now, I just finished reading this post and coincidently I did a small something today that made my heart melt and goes with your topic.
After work today, my husband went to pick our two little ones from daycare and I stayed home to get a head start on dinner. Instead of completely getting dinner ready i chose to sit at the bottom of the stairs, so when my kids came through the door, I would be sitting there, just sitting, smiling and waiting just for them.
Our three year came through first and he didn’t notice me but his little two year old sis followed close behind and shouted her traditional “Mama” as soon as she came through along with a big grin on her face.
My son stopped and gave me a strange contemplative look and said “Mommy, why are you just sitting here”? And I replied “I was sitting here waiting for you to both get home because I had missed you today”. His inquisitive face turned inti a heart melting smile and he said “Wow, you are”? And both came into my arms for a bug, squishy, ling hug. The little things matter so very much.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Sara, this is absolutely beautiful! I am crying! I love this so much! Would you mind if I share your story in a post or on The Hands Free Revolution FB page? It so beautifully illustrates how simple actions (that take little time) can make such a difference to our kids! I am blessed that you shared this with me.
You are most welcome to share – re-reading it now I realize typing on my phone means a lot of errors….lol.
Strangely enough, your email came through just as I was finishing up reading your blog “The Angel Impact” which made me tear up.
You’re such an inspiring person! Keep doing what you do! 🙂
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Sara! Honestly, I didn’t even notice any grammar issues. I only saw perfection in your words. My little daughter taught me to Notice the Good before anything else! 🙂
I love knowing you are reading all my older pieces. It means so much. I love the Angel Impact because so many special people are in that one. I can’t wait for my book to be out–at least I know Sara will be buying it! Ha! Thank you for supporting me!
A book?!?! SOLD! 🙂
I cannot tell you just how much this concept you have here is changing my family.
I cannot tell you how much I needed this, how much we all needed this.
I think this is exactly what my heart has been waiting for. I have been crying on and off all week – tears of joy, tears of acceptance, tears of realization, and tears of just being proud of myself. I am so happy that I have begun to realize that this Hands Free version of myself is who I am supposed to be, not a version I think everyone else needs me to be.
My version of “good mom/wife/daughter/friend” is changing and for once, I feel I can live up to this version.
I am so excited to continue on this new path, and all the experiences that are going to come along with it.
Since I began reading your blog (I’m catching up on old posts), I’m trying to pay more attention to the things that really matter, trying to make every effort to have my actions (towards my family in particular) be a truer reflection of how I actually feel about the person. One things I did before I started reading your posts is that every once in a while I would include fruit snacks in my son’s lunch (fruit snacks are the closest thing to a dessert allowed in by his school). The first time I did it he said something the moment he walked in the door. I now try to include a fruit snack when I think he might need a little pick-me-up or sometimes for no reason at all. I’ve also begun to include a note in his lunch box. He’s just learning to read, and I can imagine great pride and excitement as he reads the note by himself. I’ll keep thinking about other small ways I can show those important to me how much I love them.
Thank you for all the encouragement this website provides. It gives me so much food for thought, and these posts help create a positive environment in our home more than just about any other resource. Thank you for your insight.
When my husband makes our daughters lunch he always adds a simple thing, a tiny sticky note that has written: <3 D. (a heart with the letter D) basically love, dad. She is now in kindergarten and when he makes her lunch… he still adds that one thing. Every time. In preschool, her teacher put together an end of year binder with all of Rylee's projects and such. Low and behold, there is a page with those notes!!! She kept them. Thank you for the encouragement and strength you give parents everywhere. You ARE making a difference.
I recently found your blog and instantly got cought. I to have been the same type of parent as you and have been slapped in the face with the reality of my behaviors reprocuchun on my oldest son… So as a family we have embarked on the chamging journey… So your blog hits right home!
Ocasionally i will send my oldest son a little note in his lunch box. He is only starting tomread so i keep it simple, a heart with an I Love You, or a smily face with an Always Smile written on a post-it….
Trying to be better every day 🙂
Shannah G says
I just found your blog 2 days ago and I can’t stop reading! I have gone back to the beginning and am reading them in order. 99% of your posts have had me in tears…happy tears, sad tears, tears of realization, tears of shame, proud tears that I’m doing a lot of things right and hopeful tears, that I can be better. This one resonated with me today because just yesterday, I was making my 6 year old daughter lunch for school. At the last minute, I decided to write her a little note…her name with a heart on the front and when she opened it a short message of “Have a super fun day today! I love you! Love, Mommy.” When we got home that evening and I was unpacking her lunch box I found the note and asked her if she had seen my note. Her face lit up and she said, “Yes Mommy and do you know what I did after I read it? She held her hands up to her heart like she was hugging the note and had the sweetest smile on her face.” It made my day knowing that it made her so happy.
Rachel Stafford says
That is such a lovely moment! Thank you for sharing it! I am so glad you found me and you have decided to walk beside me on this life changing journey! I am grateful for your companionship!