‘How much money do you have in your wallet?’ I ask my 11 year old son, Lachlan. He answers me and I tell him to bring some of it with us. We walk out to the car in the garage, start the engine and reverse into the driveway.

‘What are we doing Dad?’ he asks me. I look at my son and reply, ‘We going out to find random acts of kindness to do and help others.’ I add, ‘People generally don’t do this. But I’m okay being different from most other people, how about you?’  He nods in return.

Just ten minutes earlier, Lach was feeling somewhat ‘lost’. He said he was bored and there was nothing to do (what parent hasn’t heard those words). You see, I severely limit Lachlan’s screen time. I only have my son every second weekend and as he grows, it feels like I’m seeing him less and less. So with what little time we do get together, I want it to be quality time, not him staring into some screen, disconnected from the physical world around him.

And I’ve found one of the quickest ways for me to feel better … is to help someone else. This may not work for everybody, but it has worked for me for many years. So when my son was feeling down and focussed on his own needs, I wanted to ‘break the cycle’ and help him gain a bigger perspective on life and experience being of service to others.

So we drive out of the driveway, with no direction or agenda, other than to seek acts of kindness we can perform to help make the world a slightly better place.

Within ten minutes we came across a donation bin in front of a community supermarket, requesting pet food to help feed orphaned cats and dogs in a local animal shelter. Lachlan and I walked into the supermarket, and both of us purchased dog food (Lachlan used his own money) and then deposited the pet food into the donation bin. Lach loves dogs and this act of kindness warmed his heart.

And then as we continued to drive around, we found a shopping trolley abandoned in a garden bed. I parked the car, Lachlan got out and pulled the trolley from the garden and pushed it back to the carpark shopping trolley bay, joining the other trolleys.

Then we went to a local playground. We grabbed a reusable shopping bag from my car and we both walked around the park, picking up rubbish, filling the bag and putting it in the bin. As we started to drive out of the park, Lach spotted a plastic bag on the ground and asked me to stop the car (which I did) so he could get out and put the plastic bag in the rubbish bin. I felt so proud of my son in that moment.

As we drove home, I explained to Lachlan that, there will always be; hungry animals, abandoned shopping trolleys and more litter on the ground than we could ever pick up in a lifetime.

But then I asked, ‘What if everyone did what we just did? What if everyone bought a little food for animals in need, or picked up a bag of rubbish off the ground?’ There would be no more hungry animals. The parks and playgrounds would all be clean. ‘Can you imagine a world like that Lach?’ He smiled.

We can’t control what others do in life, but what we can do … is lead by example.

To help capture the moment, I took photos of Lachlan depositing the pet food into the donation bin and picking up rubbish in the park. Then at the dinner table that evening, I shared with the family what we did and proudly showed the photos of Lachlan’s selfless acts of kindness.

Lachlan sat up straighter in his chair, smile beaming and his energy glowed as the family lavished Lachlan with praise and positive recognition for his actions. At the end of the day, as Lachlan lay in his bed about to go to sleep, I reminded him that somewhere out there, there’s a dog also tucked up in his bed, happy with a full belly of food, because of the dog food Lachlan bought and donated to the shelter. Lachlan smiled as he thought about that happy dog and feel into a deep restful sleep.

Craig Wyld

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