And there he stood – resolute, but maybe a little sheepish.
Our dryer broke a couple of weeks ago which meant we were lugging wet laundry down to the nearest laundromat. My younger two drank in the sight of this new experience.
I wasn’t the only newbie to the laundromat. Another woman was there who lived with her daughter. The foundation in their home settled, breaking all of the pipes and putting all of their appliances out of commission. The worry of their situation weighed heavily on her. When she told me that she had accidentally put money in my dryer instead of hers, I asked my young guy to hold the door of the dryer open until she returned, so she could use the remaining minutes.
What was to be temporary, became a calling of sorts; Trey, the holder of the dryer door. Another older woman with the cares of a hard life etched into her face pushed a walker across the laundromat floor and began to wrangle with a dryer door. Without hesitation, he stepped over and helped her hold the door open so she would pull out her laundry.
I took it all in as I shook out toasty clothes and figured out my strategy for getting everything back into the car and home with as few wrinkles as possible. His actions inspired me. As a mother, I’m deep into home and mothering mode. But I was reminded to be on the lookout for small ways I could help out the person next to me. Opportunities presented themselves on a return visit when I helped a young mother with her two-year-old son and in the broken remains of my college-level Spanish, we commiserated over the joys and challenges of raising boys.
This son’s actions spurred me on, which then inspired my other sons’ afresh. That is the power of this kind of giving, this kind of living. It is contagious.
His actions reminded me of the powerful opportunity we have to help our kids see outside of themselves – especially when they are younger. The ongoing chivalry challenge we’ve embarked on these last seven years is bearing beautiful fruit. While serving others isn’t always their automatic go-to, more often then not, I find myself pleasantly surprised at the way they rise to the occasion. They still need reminders of ways they can step in to help, but increasingly, they are recognizing it on their own.
As we backed out of the parking lot, waving at new friends made in the midst of the whirring rounds of laundry, I affirmed him.
“Thank you for stepping up, bud. You were a HERO to those women today.”
With a sheepish smile he nodded as he sat a little straighter and nonchalantly glanced out the window.
This is what the chivalry movement is all about. Helping our children see outside of themselves and take a step to help someone else. For our boys it is especially powerful when we connect this kind of empathetic action with being an everyday hero. Day by day, it shapes who they are becoming.
Model this. Challenge them to live the life of an everyday hero. Affirm when you spot it in action and patiently help them to see future opportunities because it takes practice to even recognize when needs arise. You are helping to change the world by raising children who want to take a personalized approach to changing world. Don’t give up!