A couple weeks ago, I was driving home after I picked up my 6-year-old from school.
The song Afterlife by Ingrid Michaelson came on the radio.
“This song makes me cry,” I said.
“Why?” Abby asked.
“The lady who wrote it, her mom had cancer. So this song is about her mom’s fight against cancer. But then a few months ago, her mom lost the fight and died.”
Abby was quiet for a moment. “That’s sad,” she said.
Then we were both quiet as we listened to the lyrics.
Living like you’re dying isn’t living at all
Give me your cold hands put them on my heart
Raise a glass to everyone who thinks
They’ll never make it through this life
To live a brand new start
“Mommy?” Abby asked. “Do kids ever get cancer?”
Oh boy, I thought. What do you say to that?
“Yes, they do,” I said. I glanced in the rearview mirror. A worried stitch between her eyebrows. “It doesn’t seem right that kids would get cancer, but they do.”
The song ended, then Abby spoke up again. “If you’re a kid who gets cancer, where do you live?”
“Well, sometimes you live at your house. Sometimes you live at the hospital. Sometimes you go back and forth between your house and the hospital.”
“I would miss my family if I was at the hospital all the time,” she said.
“I’m sure those kids do miss their families. It’s probably pretty scary to be so sick and be in the hospital all the time.”
She asked question after question after question.
The idea of kids in the hospital had never occurred to her before, and it’s pretty much all we talked about the rest of the day.
Channeling a 6-Year-Old’s Concern
When I found out about the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge, I explained it to Abby.
Between January 19 and February 14, the challenge is to work together with your kids, students, grandkids, or friends to commit 100 acts of kindness. So often, my family gets wrapped up in the busyness of our everyday lives, but it’s important to us that we take intentional steps to raise kind kids.
But it can be a challenge to find volunteer opportunities for kids, so I was excited for a fun challenge with lots of ideas for simple acts of kindness, and so was Abby.
“What are some special things we could do to spread kindness?” I asked Abby.
She thought for a few seconds. “I know!” she said. “I want to make the kids at the hospital feel better.”
With Valentine’s Day coming up, we brainstormed about making our own valentine cards. We designed valentines for kids where you play a math game to get the answer to a Valentine’s Day joke.
Then we printed the cards, cut and folded each one, and sealed it with some fun washi tape.
Acts of Kindness for Kids and by Kids
Abby wanted to hand out the cards directly to the kids at our local children’s hospital. But because it’s cold and flu season, the hospital doesn’t allow any visitors under the age of 12 so they can keep their patients safe from having to fight off yet another sickness.
We had to settle for delivering them to the front desk of the hospital so the staff could hand them out to a few kids in need of a smile.
Still, the simple act of walking up to a huge building filled with sick kids – that alone made an impact on Abby.
We’d made 16 valentines.
As we walked towards the hospital’s main entrance, Abby turned to me. “Mommy? Do you think we made enough for all the kids?”
“Well, there are probably hundreds of kids here. It would take a while to make that much.”
“Hundreds?” she half-whispered.
Abby’s shy with new people, so I explained to the front desk receptionist that she made valentines for the kids at the hospital.
Abby reached up over the high counter to hand the bundle of valentines to the woman.
The woman stood up from her chair so Abby could see her face. She smiled at Abby. “Thank you, sweetie. I know the kids will love these.”
Abby’s troubled little face lit up, and she smiled back at the woman.
As we left, Abby turned to me again. “Mommy, maybe if we have some extra time, we could make more valentines for the kids?”
Join Us in the Kindness Challenge
It’s not too late to join us in the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge!
Even if you can’t squeeze in 100 acts of kindness by February 14, I bet you can find the time for one. Or five. Or 10 – one for each day between now and Valentine’s Day!
Here’s a list of 100 acts of kindness for kids to give you some ideas. The list is designed as a free printable so you can print it out and stick it on your fridge for daily inspiration.
Don’t forget to sign up for the 100 Acts of Kindness Challenge and get the awesome email newsletter for even more ideas!
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What act of kindness could you commit today? Share your thoughts in a comment below!