Monday, January 21, 2013

That's What I Call Service!

I have visions of doing service projects as a family...raking up a neighbor's leaves, volunteering at the food shelf, packing meals at a place like Kids Against Hunger or Feed My Starving Children. And I've read countless articles affirming how valuable it is to volunteer and give back as a family- especially when it comes to raising kids who are generous, compassionate, and grateful.

But it can be tricky to think of service projects to do with a twenty-nine month old.  Sure, Esme can decorate a paper bag and put canned goods in it to take to the food shelf, but that's about the best idea I've found for her age.  At least so far.

So given the fact that I haven't come up with many great ideas, you'd think when Esme pointed out trash on the ground, and called it to my attention, I'd be thrilled and help her pick it up, all the while telling her what a great job she's doing at noticing ways she can help out.  But no.  Instead, I find myself answering her, "What's this?" by saying, "That's garbage.  Icky.  Don't touch."  I've even had to catch myself a few times from saying, "Someone else will pick it up."  Ahh!  Am I really saying this?!

With this in mind, I've decided it's time to change my tactic.  I've also decided (as much as I like to keep extra things from filling up my purse) it's time to start keeping a couple of trash bags on hand for these very occasions.  That way, the next time Esme points out trash on the ground and reaches to pick it up, I can pull out a bag, teach her how to pick up the trash, and then tell her what an awesome job she is doing at caring for the environment.

In the meantime, though I haven't yet let Esme pick up trash, there are things she does around the house that I'd qualify as service...bringing me the wipes when my hands are committed to preventing Reid from rolling into his dirty diaper...helping set the table...filling the bird feeder with food.  When she does these things, I try to be diligent in thanking her and saying something like, "That's what I call service!"  My hope is that even at a young age, she'll pick up on how good doing good can feel...even when she's not allowed to pick up trash.

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