With young kids who are so impressionable and always watching, it’s more important than ever for me to encourage random acts of kindness in our everyday life. Whether it is chasing down a teacher in the hall to return some dropped notes or it’s offering a tissue when someone sneezes, there are small acts we can do every day that make a difference in other people’s lives.
In the past few years I have been the recipient of numerous acts of kindness, ranging from someone holding a door open for me when I have my hands full with kiddos to a huge act of kindness that I experienced a year ago that I will never, ever forget.
My family was having coffee with my sister and my kids were kind of restless so they were exploring the space around our table. At one point my son toddled over to some men who were having a serious discussion in a foreign language and just stopped and stared at them, not saying a word. My daughter came over and joined him in an attempt to bring her brother back to our table and not disturb the men, but the older men began to talk to them.
The man then asked us if the kids could have a treat and sort of gestured towards the bakery display case. Normally we would have said no, but there was something about the man that was so kind and sweet that we agreed. But, instead of buying the treats himself, he turned around and grabbed something from his wallet and folded it into a small rectangle, which he then put in my husband’s hand. We then sat and had a conversation with him about where he was from and the turmoil that his home country is in and he told us over and over again how precious our kids were. And, then they said their goodbyes, we said thank you for the treat and then they left.
It wasn’t until the men left the store and we were going up to buy the treat that we realized he had given us $200, a hundred dollars for each child. We all stood there in shock over what had just happened and how a man whom we had never met was so taken by our children that he wanted to talk with us, to tell us of his homeland, and to offer an extravagant gift just in time for the holidays.
And, we never got to thank him properly for such a huge gift right when we needed it most.
Instead, we paid it forward and did random acts of kindness for others in honor of that man. That man who saw something special in our kids and decided to bestow upon us a special present knowing we wouldn’t know what he had done until it was too late for proper thank yous. I hope he knew how important that meeting was – not just for the present, but also because we made a connection that night as we listened to him talk of a home that was half a world away.
In my heart, I don’t think he ever expected a big thank you. Our happiness over the fact that a man was so taken with our children that he wanted to buy them a pastry was enough for him, he didn’t need to see us open the money and see the look of shock on our faces.
There’s something really special about doing something for someone without expecting anything in return and a smile being the best reward you can receive. I hope to teach my children that and instill in them that they can change people’s lives with small moments each day, just like that man did.
Who would you like to make smile this holiday season? In the spirit of the Invisalign Smile It Forward Sweepstakes, we are inviting others to practice some random acts of kindness this year. Invisalign knows that an attractive smile can do wonders. It contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image, which are important at any age. And they are surely going to make two people smile very big when they win their $500/$500 giveaway!
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