Last night, after chatting on the phone with my suddenly very grown up daughter, I was reminiscing with my husband about some of my very favorite—albeit humbling—parenting moments.
When Cami was in sixth grade at the Sacred Heart Academy, one of her favorite teachers told her about a “sister” school in Uganda. Cami was very moved by the presentation and decided she wanted to help out over the summer months by raising some money to support the school.
I, of course, was pleased with her enthusiasm and encouraged her to set up a lemonade stand and put some of her babysitting money toward the project. Frankly, as the summer progressed, I forgot about the school in Uganda and was just pleased to see her so committed to the lemonade-selling business. She loved to be outside and could talk all day long. The set up was perfect for her.
One evening toward the end of the summer, Cami asked me to read an e-mail she had composed to a woman named Sister Cullen. I had no idea how Cami had found her or what exactly her connection was to Sacred Heart School. When I questioned her, she smiled up at me and said, “Mom, I need to send my money to the girls in Uganda.”
She then proceeded to show me close to four hundred dollars in coins and dollar bills. I was literally speechless. (Cami originally wanted to send the money in a jar, but I insisted we get a check.) I told her I thought she should tell everyone at school about the success of her summer project. I was so thrilled, so proud and of course had visions of “prize day mania” dancing in my head.
Cami took the money jar to school the following week and presented it to the middle school during morning assembly. I eagerly awaited pick-up that day and quizzed her the second she got in the car. “Was it wonderful?” I exclaimed as she buckled her seat belt. “Not really,” she admitted.
She had not liked having all the attention and the teachers asking her about her motivations.
I said something like, “But Cami, you have to realize that what you did was really special and people like to share in that kind of activity and besides, maybe your actions will inspire someone else.”
Cami turned to look at me in utter disbelief and said,
“Mama, don’t you know, you are supposed to be good just for the sake of being good.”
To this day, I carry that line with me in everything I do. As they say, out of the mouths of babes.
Cami is so right—giving should come from the heart. It is often the smallest acts of kindness that have the greatest impact.
Being good for the sake of being good is not about awards or presentations or accolades. It is not about tying a bunch of expectations to your efforts or feeling smug or empowered. Being good is often invisible work.
It is small acts of kindness and compassion just because it is the right thing to do.
Cami taught me so much through her experience of giving from the heart, and she humbled me with her sweetness and wisdom.
Molly Beauregard is on the faculty of College for Creative Studies where she teaches sociology. She recently has had the joy of integrating transcendental meditation as an experiential component into her classes. Students love the deep rest, stress release and renewed access to their creative spirit. One former student, Chelsea Richer, has founded an online community for students to discuss sustainable living, yoga and meditation.
Editor: Jamie Morgan
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