What is it with ice cream truck drivers? Is it just me, or do they have no sense of timing? The ice cream truck driver who cruises our neighborhood picks the crappiest time to come through. Wouldn't it make sense mid-afternoon or mid-evening? You know, after the kids have had lunch or dinner? No, not our driver. She has to come through at noon or between 5:00 and 6:30, just about the time Thing One and Thing Two are starving and I am preparing a meal. I think our driver dislikes parents and purposefully drives through at that time to set off all the kids in the neighborhood. I swear I heard an evil laugh over the "Popeye the Sailor Man" theme as she drove away.
So, she came through again tonight at dinner time. Of course, I was in the middle of preparing a delicious meal of freezer burned chicken nuggets and french fries (have I mentioned that I hate cooking?). Saying no to ice cream on a hot summer day is likely to earn you the Worst Parent of the Year Award. We have found a way to avoid the angst of no ice cream by making it clear to Thing One and Thing Two that if they want ice cream, they have to pay for it themselves. They picked up on this quickly and always have a stash of coins prepared for the blessed event. If they are short, they clean out the couch cushions. We have avoided the lunch/dinner issue by having them put it in the freezer until after said meal.
The real point of this post is to discuss how to cultivate kindness in kids. After Thing One and Thing Two came in from purchasing their goods, I opened the freezer to pull out dinner and saw only one Popsicle. When I asked Thing One why there was only one treat, he informed me that Thing Two didn't have any money for a treat. He explained further that he used his last dollar to buy her something rather than for himself. I was overwhelmed with feelings of pride as my eyes welled with tears.
We have worked hard over the years discussing and trying to be good role models about generosity with the kids. We have also worked hard to stress how fortunate the kids are to have each other and that they need to treat each other well. We have praised the kids for any acts of kindness or generosity that we have seen towards others. Thing Two, being younger, is by nature more likely to share. Thing One, on the other hand, is our miniature Alex P. Keaton. For him to buy ice cream for his sister in lieu of himself was a difficult and unselfish act. It made me realize that all those discussions about kindness and generosity were not in vain. So, thank you Ms. Ice Cream Truck Driver for giving me a whole new appreciation for the Popsicle.
What things do you do to encourage kindness and generosity in your children?