“You lie down. You sing. You dance. You give me chocolate cake. Now sleep!”
I watch as my mother subjects herself to the every whim of the four-year-old in front of her. The tiny waif girl stands with a hand on each miniscule hip, pretending to scowl authoritatively at my lovely mother, who meanwhile is grinning ear-to-ear at this tiny dictator.
It’s especially funny for me now as an adult to watch mom play with kids, having an audience-seat glimpse into my own childhood. I’ve watched her countless times play the “Whatever You Say” game with children. She lets them turn her into a “slave” and boss her around mercilessly. They love it.
I once asked her why. Why do kids love it so much?
She said the key to understanding children is acknowledging that they feel irrevocably small or helpless. It’s quite often a constant emotion. So, giving them any grain of power will bring untold delight. It communicates to them that what they do matters.
I remember somewhere around my 10th birthday realizing that my parents were humans and that I had the direct power to make their days better or worse. I was dumbfounded. I was so small, so unimportant, how could I affect people?
It’s a realization I still struggle with.
I often feel like what I’m doing can’t make a real difference. But it does. My actions may not influence the whole world, but I have the power to affect someone, maybe even a few someones.
My mom taught me that what I do matters: my choices, my actions, my voice. And that’s why I volunteer.
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Written by Anna Spady.