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Guests and Ghosts

A month ago my family was out eating lunch and as usual my sons finished eating before my husband and I. To keep them occupied we took out a few Thomas the Tank Engine Minis for them to play with at the table.

A few tables over, a grandmother was out with her three grandchildren. Just like our little ones they had eaten quickly and were ready to play. The sweet boy at that table seemed heartbroken that he didn’t have a train to play with. My three year old son showed a side of him that I had never seen before; he reached out to show a stranger empathy and compassion. He asked me if he could let his new friend play with one of his trains. The child ran the train across the table, up and down the booth, and across the top of the booth seats. You could also hear random train toots and the conversation as imaginative play began in earnest.

thomas minis

After about five minutes, I heard tears from the other table. I looked back to see our new friend leaning over desperately trying to find the train that he had dropped behind the booth. Unfortunately, the booth at the restaurant was bolted to the wall and the tiny toy was irretrievable. Our son was saddened by the loss of his train, but put on a brave face and he told the other child that it was okay and shared another one. We reassured the family, after all a Thomas Mini costs about $1.50, and we have duplicates of many of them. The grandmother voiced feeling horrible about the situation, but my husband and I assured her it would be just fine. Both families eventually packed up and left, and although our son asked for “Gordon”, the lost train, on the way home, the whole episode was soon forgotten by us.

If you haven’t guessed it, my boy’s favorite show is Thomas and Friends. One of the reoccurring themes in Thomas and Friends is friendship and teamwork. Through sharing, our son learned that he could bring joy to others, and maybe make a new friend. I love that I could use their favorite show to have conversations about how good it feels to be kind to others and to share what we have.

It seems that day at the restaurant sparked a fire in us all to show random acts of kindness more often. My children are in the process of learning to share with each other, and this provided an excellent teaching example of kindness. I see smaller examples of this between my kids more and more now, such as when they will ask for two of something in order to give one item to their brother, or coming up to give a hug or pat on the back when the other is sad.

About a month had gone by; we were at our usual Sunday lunch spot, and the kids were once again done eating and engrossed in their trains, when a little girl came over to our table and gave us a package of three new Thomas Minis. I was a bit taken aback and didn’t recognize her at first. I went over to her table to make sure there wasn’t some mistake. As soon as I greeted the family I recognized the grandmother. Apparently, a few days after the original lunch, she had gone out to purchase a replacement and had carried it with her in hopes of running into us again.

This small act brought joy to my family. It was probably the first comment I had received in a long time about my boys or my parenting. My kids were smiling ear to ear and were delighted to have a new toy. They both wanted to run over and say thank you for this gift. It was proof of the lessons that we teach our kids about the power of selfless giving. All day long my son kept saying how nice his new friends were, and wanted to share his story with all his family, friends, and neighbors.

train overalls

I encourage everyone to reach out beyond their comfort zone and to take the plunge to show compassion. My children showed the smallest kindness to someone they had never met before, and it resonated back to them. This one simple act will stay with my family and provide a reminder that goodness is alive and well in our community. If we encourage our kids to be kind and lead by example our children’s generation may be the ones who set this world in a better direction.

Kristy is a stay-at-home mom by day and social media expert by night. When she's not chasing after her lively boys or writing about their adventures, she enjoys scrapbooking and traveling.

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Village Fathers is a fatherhood education program and support group sponsored by Healthy Families Rappahannock Area. Its goal is to help fathers improve their parenting skills by promoting healthy and positive attitudes towards fatherhood and parenting.

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