I hustled the four boys into the car, along with five bouquets of flowers, cards the boys had written, three rolls of quarters and a prayer that they had all showered and were wearing clean clothes for our "Do Good Day" mission (sponsored by American Eagle). We were offered a great opportunity- and jumped on it! We were on the verge of running late as I had just finished with summer camp, and I wanted to tell them what I expected of them that afternoon.
"Okay, guys, when we get to Foxdale Retirement Community, and you are handing out the flowers, you could say..."
"Mom. MOM! I think we know how to talk."
"Well, I wasn't sure if you wanted me to give you some ideas, or.."
"We got it. We're not little kids. I think we know how to talk to people."
"Yeah. We can talk to people- even the elders!" I heard from the back seat.
And so it was on.
We arrived at Foxdale and were greeted by a lovely woman who welcomed us with gratitude. She walked us up the stairs towards the kitchen, where she suggested we begin rewarding the kitchen staff that work so hard every day.
The boys began handing out flowers to residents and visitors as we made our way down the hallway.
At first I gently gestured with my head towards people and they took the cues. Soon, they were approaching people and handing out the flowers - along with huge smiles, laughs and stickers. I noticed more than once that residents would reach out to hug whoever had handed them the flower, and each one returned every hug willingly and happily.
As we left the building, the boys were laughing and talking about what people said, how much fun it was and how easy it had been. As I watched them talking and laughing, I felt so proud. I was wiping my eyes as I thought about how this simple gesture meant so much to so many.
We made our way downtown and found a spot in the middle of a busy parking lot. The boys, pockets laden with quarters, made their way up and down rows of meters, whooping it up when they came upon one blinking that time had expired.
"We have saved SO MANY PEOPLE!" one of the shouted.
"Yeah, but they probably won't even know it! But that's okay." another replied.
And at that moment I turned to see a police officer put his ticket-giver-outer into his holster and look in my direction. We started towards each other, and I had an inkling he wasn't happy. (Cue the shoot-out music.)
"You know , you really aren't supposed to feed all the meters." He said in a very stern tone.
Being the teacher, I replied, "Now, now. These boys are doing a service project, and learning a valuable lesson today. What would you have them do instead?"
"Well, to be honest, I work at the fire station as well. Here's the number. Next time they want to do a service project, have them come over and wash the engines for us." He smiled at me, glanced one more time at the lot, shook his head and turned to walk the other direction.
On the drive home the boys were talking a mile a minute, and those of you with a gaggle of boys around your house know what I mean. At one point someone said, "That was so so cool. Even getting busted by the COPS was cool!"
There were many amazing lessons learned today. The last one? Being good is almost as much fun as being bad.