We sit at the dinner table most nights of the week except Friday, a big soccer night. We do this both as a way to get everyone fed at the same time as well as to shore the timbers in the family ship. One of the things we do is to go around the table and say what good happened today.
Vix will throw it out there, as she did last night. "What good happened in your day?"
"Don't pick me first," RunningHammer said.
"OK, I won't. Grandma?"
"It rained so I didn't have to water the garden," TinyGranny said.
"I got an A on my vocabulary quiz," SweetFaceBoy said.
"I made a touchdown in football during PE," said Vonda
These last two came after long thoughtful pauses. Middle-school kids never think anything good happens, and if it does, they are much too cool to mention it.
"Work brought in pizza today for lunch," I said.
"No one yelled at me at work," Vix said.
Then Vix at last turned to RunningHammer. "And what happened today for you, Bear?"
He finished chewing his dinner and had a sip of milk.
SweetFaceBoy and MaShone giggled about some private joke. He spread his arms as if to stop traffic. "Everyone has to listen to me."
Once it got quiet, I said, "Yes?"
"I am the Kindness Reporter."
"The Kindness Reporter."
"And what does the Kindness Reporter do?"
SFB butted in. "Don't you hold doors open and stuff?"
"No," RH said, sending an exasperated look his way. "That's the job of the Door Opener. It's a totally different job."
"So what do you do?"
"Whenever anyone does something nice or helpful, I make a check by their name on the blackboard so that everyone knows about it."
How cool is that? I thought. His teacher, along with helping them to read and count and become comfortable with concepts of time (clocks and calendars are big deals this month), has also taken the time to show how valuable it is to show simple kindness to everyone.
"What type of things do you report on?"
"Well," he said, taking another sip of milk out of his Dr. Seuss jelly jar, "if someone lets someone else play in their game or if they share a book or do something nice, then I put it on the board."
"And everyone sees it?"
"What a wonderful job to have!"
Even big brother SFB was impressed. "Hammer, you are the coolest."
RunningHammer did not reply. He went back to his plate, unsuccessfully trying to supress a grin and a blush.
As we cleared the table, I wondered, What would it be like if every neighborhood, every business, every city and state and nation had a Kindness Reporter? This way, we would see what is truly valuable to the human experience and not the inverse, which unfortunately gets all the press -- a howling litany of deceit, greed and war.
Thank goodness that RunningHammer's teacher has this job along with ones like Door Opener, Line Leader and Clinic Helper. Though we try to plant the seeds of kindness at every turn with our own children, nurturing them the best we can, it is teachers such as this one who add the extra nutrients to help the roots grow deep and strong and the flowers reach out to others.