On the first day of soccer camp this week, around lunch time, Seth noticed that there was another boy who was sitting alone with his lunch bag. When he pointed this out to Matthew, they decided that they would go and sit with him to keep him company, and so they did, even though he was at least a few years older than they are (which meant that he was in a different group than my boys during the soccer practices). It became clear, as they sat there, that the other boy didn't have enough food in his lunch bag, and what he did have was all junk food. He told the boys that his mom didn't have a lot of time to pack his lunches and so all she ever packed was junk food: fast-food hamburger; chocolate bars; chips; store-bought cookies; etc etc. Matthew said that there was not one healthy thing in his lunch bag.
Matthew offered to share some of his food with the other boy, which he gratefully accepted, saying that he wished he could eat healthier food more often. When that food disappeared, the boy asked Matthew for more and Matthew offered him something else...also consumed. When the boy continued to ask for food, Matthew shared what he could and then eventually said that he needed to keep some food to eat himself; he suggested that maybe Seth or one of the coaches had something he could eat. Sure enough, Seth immediately offered up something from his lunch bag and the boy also later received some fruit from the coaches. I was so proud of my boys: For sitting with the other boy; for sharing their food; and because Matthew also had the courage to tell him when it was enough and for suggesting other options for him.
Later, Matthew was with a few other boys who referred to the other boy as 'junk food boy' and 'crap food guy' and were laughing. Matthew refused to participate and told me that he was going to find out the boy's real name the next day because he couldn't remember it (and he did this); he wanted to make a point of using the boy's real name so that his feelings wouldn't be hurt. He was relieved when one of the coaches quickly stepped in to stop the other boys from making jokes about the boy.
I didn't say very much when the boys told me their experiences with this other boy. I told them that it was ok to share their food with him if they wanted to, and I told them once quietly that I was proud of them for looking out for their neighbour. But I didn't make a big fuss about it out loud (though on the inside I was so proud I could bust) because I think too often our making a big deal of things our kids do actually makes them more prone to becoming people pleasers (ie. motivated to earn our praise) rather than acting out of their own heart's wisdom. I did pack extra food into the boys' lunches for the rest of the week, and Matthew did mention that he'd shared his food every day.
Seriously, is that not how we want our kids to be acting towards others? So often during day-to-day struggles, it's easy (for me, anyway) to despair about so many things. But then once in a while, these kinds of moments happen and I know my kids' hearts are absolutely in the right place. This mama has every kind of right reason to be proud of those boys of mine this week.