Tuesday, January 22, 2008

One Step at a Time

An African-American girl who looked about six years old unlocked the secret mystery of key chains for The Mayor.

He stood transfixed as she showed him each of the things she carried on it.

He marvelled at the idea that she had her very own... oh, to have one's own key chain...

"My mommy works for the county library," the little girl told me.

"How wonderful," I said. "You must get to read a lot of great stories!"

She nodded and said,

"I used to have my own bedroom, but then my Uncle had to move in with us so now I sleep with my mommy and it's really fun because we read stories and talk and laugh."

Her name was Maya, she was delightful and The Mayor was deeply enamored.

Since her mother was the project coordinator for the day and busy with all the details, I told her Maya could hang out with us if that would make things easier.

Earlier in the week I had searched through our local Martin Luther King Day event listings to find a volunteer project that might work for us as The Mayor and The Rooster finally seemed old enough for us to volunteer together as a family.

Since children of any age were welcome, I signed us up to help take down holiday decorations at one of our city parks.

When I woke up yesterday and realized how cold it was I thought about the magnitude of the human need in my city in contrast against our planned activity.

Viewed in that light, taking down holiday lights seemed a bit... I don't know...

I wondered if we ought to be doing something more meaningful.


When we arrived, The Mayor made fast friends Maya (and later, undeterred by her being nearly twice his age, announced that she would be his future bride.)

Maya and The Mayor worked together to pull holiday lights out of the park’s trees and bushes.

I wound the strands into bundles and put them into The Rooster’s outstretched arms.

Loaded down with lights, Rooster toddled over to the volunteer that was bagging them up until next year and struggled to help get them packed up.


Working along side about seventy other volunteers we slowly progressed across the park and packed up the seasonal lights.

The Mayor and The Rooster truly helped get the job done.

They were beaming, so proud of themselves.

In the end, I think the simple truth of their pride made me recognize that I had, in fact, chosen well.

The other volunteers at the project, despite being strangers, were incredibly patient with The Mayor and The Rooster and generously took the time to make sure they understood that they were contributing and that their contributions were valued.

While we didn't shelter the cold or feed the hungry, my children took their first step on a path I hope they will follow for the rest of their lives... and it was good.

There is a national movement to make the King holiday a day of service as a way to honor Dr. King's contributions to our nation.

I'm totally on board.

I believe in his dream.



56 comments:

furiousBall said...

What a sweet little girl. Thank you for sharing Maya's wisdom and also a damn fine idea.

Leendaluu said...

Fabulous idea. I've often wondered how much better we all would be if each of us gave a day a year. And how much closer it would likely make us.

Cara said...

Beautiful post. It is great to see that the meaning of the Holiday is not lost. Nowaday so many people percieve Holidays as a day off and forget the real reason for it.

Jodi said...

wonderful. i'm going to find something for the boys and i to do together next year.

Redneck Mommy said...

I love taking my kids out to volunteer activities. They beam with pride and they take their responsibilities so seriously.

It is a wonderful thing.

And I love the idea of turning MLK day into a service day. Inspirational, indeed.

mamatulip said...

That is so cool.

flutter said...

That's what it should be.

Don Mills Diva said...

What a great, great day and a great opportunity for your kids to learn about community.

WILLIAM said...

Dayyy On. Dayyyayyyayy On. Holiday lights off and I wanna go home.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

What a great way to introduce your children to the ways of social action. Keep it up, and the spirit of service will stick with them forever. What a good mom you are!

Circus Kelli said...

Oh! Very cool!

AnotherMomCreation said...

That is just a wonderful thing you've done for your children.

Kudos to you Mom!

CamiKaos said...

oh no, you have me all teary eyed again.

I agree, you made a good choice.

Rima said...

Day of Service, I like that idea.

Sayre said...

It doesn't matter what you volunteered to do... it's the learning of their ability to help that is important. They may not have been able to help much in another setting yet.

carrie said...

I've heard about this "day on, not a day off" and I think it's a great idea.

And what you are doing for your children is one of the best things I think a parent can do. Experiences in service at a young age are priceless in what it fosters later. Good for ALL of you!

Little Monkies said...

I struggled to find an age-appropriate project for Monkey this year...why is it so hard? I also struggled this year with explaining the fight that Dr. King fought. I believe in the dream, too, my dear.

motherbumper said...

I love you and your family so much - can we move in?

Hol&J said...

That's wonderful! I love the idea of doing a service project on this and other holidays.

Ricardo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricardo said...

That was really cool of you to do. And thankfully the dream lives on.

Jennifer said...

So wonderful. You. Them. The whole idea.

MamaGeek said...

Wow, what a concept (day on, not a day off) and grand gesture. Now THAT's progress.

ewe are here said...

What a great idea! And how nice that everyone was so patient with them.

Lisa said...

I love it! I declared this year a year to give a little more of myself. So glad to read your story, it is an inspiration.

QT said...

That is so cool. I love Maya's perspective on her uncle moving in. And that your kids managed to have a great time AND make a contribution.

Worker Mommy said...

I love that you included your children in the day. It is absolutely important that the dream live on and it's amazing people/parents like you that will ensure that happens.

Laura said...

Thank you for sharing.

JCK said...

This is exactly what I want to start doing with my two. It sounds like it was a win-win all the way around, and starting early with volunteering is the key. Or, it is never too late if you haven't done it before.

kittenpie said...

what a great idea.
MLK just makes me swell up with tear-jerking pride in what humans can be, alongside sadness at why it should be necessary.

Ree said...

How fun!

Aliki2006 said...

I am so behind that movement, too--what an amazing way to honor the man and his dream.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Fantastic idea! I'm sure your kids were very proud of themselves and I'm sure you were very proud of them.

mothergoosemouse said...

It was work that needed to be done. Good for you and yours for doing it.

painted maypole said...

what a great idea!

Jenifer said...

That is a great idea. Many companies give each employee a day off to volunteer somewhere...usually you have a few choices to pick from. This is different though because this is your time.

Damselfly said...

You are so cool.

And so are your kids.

Holly said...

What a sweet experience! That is a great way to teach them about service, and you know they'll remember how fun it was and how they felt. Good job Mom!

the mama bird diaries said...

What a wonderful thing to do...

I can still remember volunteering with my mom and I want to give the same gift to my children. And you are already doing it. Very cool.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Next year, I vow to do something better than take my Christmas tree down.

Claire B. said...

With you.

Queen Karana said...

That's awesome!
What a great thing to do with your kids! What a great lesson they are learning.

cce said...

Oh damn, now I feel like a real slouch having spent MLK day sitting on the couch and watching Australian Open Tennis. Next year, next year!

Kelley said...

Maya is one of my favourite names. It is the name of my laptop.

I think I chose well ;)

My girls have been helping me with my volunteer work for years. They asked to help. I think it does children (and now teens) good to do things for others. Even packing away decorations in the park is a meaningful way of kids becoming a part of their community.

Cakabaker said...

What! No Park Rangers in the Park? I am sooo disappointed.
I think it would be great if everyone helped out more, and not just one day a year, but it's a start.

mauniejames said...

Your an awesome Mom and a wonderful
and giving human being...I'm not just blowing smoke...I thought about helping out but I didn't..you
did..and I love the hat and scarf..I made one for hubby (hat) the night he was going hunting...when the other guys saw it..I had to make one for each of them..however, I used huge needles so it was done in no time..

maunie

Victoria said...

So wonderful. I got goosebumps reading this.

Kevin Charnas said...

RIGHT ON. That's AN EXCELLENT idea. I'm on board too.

and just in case I haven't told you lately, you're the shizz, my friend.

Emily N said...

We celebrated by watching a DVD of MLK's I Have a Dream speech. I teared up. The 5 yr old and the 2 yr old were utterly bored, the 2 week old slept thru it (tho he sleeps thru a lot). I will try again next yr tho, and maybe with a service project thrown in too (tho it's hard for me to imagine my 2 yr old being helpful - he would have broken all the holiday decorations). A friend also recommended the kid's book Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

SUEB0B said...

Good on you.

I think the day of service is a great idea.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

Well, I love that idea. My kids went to a movie----they wouldn't gotten more out of the day doing something more meaningful.

Mimi said...

Good work. It seems like exactly the right activity.

toddlerplanet said...

Amen!

All we did this year was sing a special song. But you lived it.

"We shall work together ...."

Way to go, OTJ!

Alpha DogMa said...

What a great idea.

Sarcastic Mom (aka Lotus) said...

You are so beautiful it makes me ache. You inspire me over and over again. You bless my life!

*sniff*

Jo Beaufoix said...

Ahh that was fabulous. And what a cool kid Maya was. :D