One day, my younger daughter, Halle, came home from school and said, “Momma, I want to be a bucket filler!”
In Kindergarten, they learned that everyone walks around carrying an invisible bucket. Bucket filling is when you use words or actions to show you care about someone. To be kind and thoughtful. To make someone feel good about themselves, therefore filling their bucket. Being a bucket dipper is when your words or actions are unkind, disrespectful, or bullying. You’re dipping into someones happiness.
My response to that sweet little face looking at me with concern was, “Babe, you are a bucket filler. Do you think you are?”
She thought about it for a minute. She seemed unsure.
“Well, I did help so and so pick up his papers that fell on the floor the other day.
And last week so and so forgot her snack, so I gave her mine.
Then today so and so got called a name and I gave her a hug and told her it wasn’t true.”
You see, our children can teach us so much if we let them. And Halle? My sweet Halle has taught me to be a bucket filler… to see the best in people… to forgive, even if we feel they don’t deserve it. She has such a pure and kind heart. She loves, abundantly. Most leave the presence of Halle happier than when they arrived. She has the gift of being a bright light everywhere she goes.
I will never forget the day Halle taught me a lesson in forgiveness. In preschool, there was a kid who bullied her… physically and mentally… followed her around… taunted her. Between my husband and myself, we addressed this issue several times with the school. It was serious.
We had finally put an action plan in place and I was so anxious to pick Halle up from school to see how her day went. As I pulled the van up to the preschool doors she seemed like her normal self, hand in hand with her teacher, skipping to the car, and hugging goodbye.
“Hey, Hal! How was school?”
“It was great, mom! I told ____ he can come to our house to play!”
My knee jerk reaction was to whip around and yell, “You did what?!?”
“Well, he was nice to me today.”
“Babe, I am so happy he was nice to you today! But, just because he was nice for one day doesn’t mean all the other days are forgiven.”
Her face showed forgiveness when she said, “But… he told me he was sorry for being mean. He asked if he could come to our house to play. So, I told him he can, but he can’t be mean or he has to go home. He promised that he will be nice from now on.”
My face softened and I said, “Halle, you are the most forgiving person I’ve ever known.”
She just sat back in her booster with a huge smile on her face kicking her feet back and forth looking out the window. One apology erased weeks and weeks of bullying. She most definitely didn’t forget, but she forgave. As we drove back home and I peaked at her in my rear view mirror, I was inspired. My four year old just got it. She understood how to show mercy. She chose to fill up his bucket even when he ran hers dry.
Every single one of our kids have unique and wonderful attributes that make us say… Yep, that’s our little Johnny! And Halle? She is hands down my bucket filler. My free spirit. She lives life to the fullest (which many times lands her in trouble). She’s the, I’ll-give-you-the-shirt-off-my-back, kind of girl.
Please don’t get me wrong, there are times when Halle has been a bucket dipper. Like the rest of us, she isn’t without flaws. But her kindness runs deeper. If you come to our house, you won’t leave without at least a few hugs. She may even call from the front door and make you come back for one more. She tells more people than I can count how special they are to her. She loves fashion and if you’re wearing something she loves, she tells you. She was playing at a friends house recently and I got a text from the mom that said, “Halle is so cute! She told me she likes my picture frame, my couch, and my bananas!” I loved this because it sums up Halle so perfectly.
Being kind not only fills someone else’s bucket, but as a result, it also fills yours. And on the flip side? Dipping into someone else’s bucket, dips into yours. We get what we give. We teach our children, but if we let them, they can teach us more. Our children have this amazing ability to put a mirror in front of our face and make us take a good long look.
So, that precious little girl stood there with her hands clasped and her heart open as I said again, “Babe, you are kind and helpful. You love and hug and kiss. You forgive. You walk around handing out compliments. You are a bucket filler. And you know what? I want to be more like you.”