Originally published September 1, 2010, but republished today because, well, friends, everyone could use a lift.
Last week, we ran into a verrrry blue Thursday morning. Everyone was cranky, everyone was bickering, and everyone was down in the dumps.
Maybe our summertime later-night schedule was finally taking a toll on us; maybe we were anxious about the upcoming change of schedule. Whatever it was, we needed a lift.
I wondered if a little do-gooding (good-doing?) would be what Maddy, Owen, Cora, and I needed to lift our spirits and pull us out of our end-of-summer funks. Turns out, it worked.
Surprise! Happy Day Notes:
I finally said (after giving myself a much-needed extra cup of java), Look, it’s okay to have a tough day. We’re all having one, and it’s not pretty. But we can’t keep whining and moaning and picking on each other. I can’t take one more gem away or have any more kids in time out.
Let’s try something different. Sometimes when you’re extra nice to other people and make their day better, your day feels better, too. Maybe that’s what we need to do to turn this terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day around.
So I quickly hit the computer and punched out very simple Happy Day note cards with basic (okay, super-cheesy, overly excited) happy messages like–
You are #1–numero uno! Have a smiley day!
Here’s to you! You are a great person!
Cora cuts apart her Happy Day Notes.
I printed them out on the brightest yellow, orange, blue, and green cardstock we had. And then we cut them out (pretty good fine motor practice for little fingers, too!).
After they were all cut out, Maddy, Owen, and Cora decorated them with a Foamie or a sticker, and then they shoved them into their bags.
We were on our way.
Maddy and Owen wanted to hoof it, but Cora jumped in the wagon with her bag in hand. Cora and I followed Maddy and Owen around our street, and they literally put a Happy Day note into everyone’s mailbox on our block.
(I know it’s not legal to go into other people’s mailboxes, and really–I’m not condoning illegal behavior. But I thought that the US Postal Service might waive a fine for three little Secret-Happy-Day-Note-Givers on this one day. Maybe?)
Mailboxes, doors, benches–it didn’t matter. We gave one note to everyone we could, and then when we finished with our block, we went on to the next.
The kids were on a mission. They were happy. They were skipping. They were excited just talking about how people would react when they saw their notes.
We wondered what our friendly neighbors–the ones we know and talk to regularly–would say, and we talked about what the neighbors we didn’t know might say.
Would they suspect it was us who left the notes? Might it cheer them up after a long day at work? Would they be angry or think it was a joke?
Later that day, we took Brady to the Dog Park, and the kids brought along the extra notes they had. We put some notes on cars in the lot near our favorite Market, and we put some notes on cars near the Dog Park.
One family at the Dog Park had a particularly ‘in-your-face’ kind of pooch who wouldn’t get out of Cora or Owen’s space, and I could not keep the dog away from them. I called out to her, Would you mind calling your dog, please? I can’t seem to keep him away from the little ones.
She yelled, If you can’t handle three kids and a dog, then you shouldn’t be here–go somewhere else. Seriously. She said that. To me. In front of my kids and hers. Across an entire dog park.
I wanted to scream things that my kids have never heard–and shouldn’t hear–any adult say to another. Instead, I shrugged it off and threw the ball for Brady–the other way.
But as we left the park, I asked Maddy for one of her Happy Day notes.
I said, I really think that cranky lady needs some cheering up. She must be having a tough day like we were having. I’m giving her a note and hopefully it will cheer her up.
I put one on the lady’s car, and her son must have seen me. He yelled, Mom! That lady put a note on your car! which prompted Angry Dog Park Lady to run over to the fence, scream at me–in front of my kids–Why are you putting a note on my car? If you can’t handle your kids and dog, then STAY HOME!
I said, You know what? I did put a note on your car, and it’s a Happy Day note that my kids and I are spreading around to cheer people up. Yours says, ‘You’re Awesome’. Do you want me to take it off? I will.
She huffed away red-faced and angry, and I drove off with a smile on my face and three kids clapping and cheering and woo-hooing that we gave the note to the most perfect person ever–someone who really, really needed it.
And that’s that–not much of an ABC or 123-learning day, but an important life lesson nonetheless. Cheering people up does feel good. Doing good things feels great. And it couldn’t be a better lesson for three little Crankies and their Cranky McCrankerson mom on a late summer day.
We will definitely run incorporate do-gooding into our lives more often–in any and every form we are able.
Do YOU want the Happy Day Notes for the WHOLE ‘Hood?
How does your family share the love, help others, and do good for the community?
Check out a few other posts that may help you develop strong and healthy habits for your family:
- wait time
- my day, your day
- frozen peas
- kids who rock the kitchen
- kids who rock the laundry
- rest time
- gem jars
- arm circles
- noticing kids
- homework routine
fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy.