Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Citizen GusIt’s a proud moment when you realize your child did the right thing without parental prompting. When you see that they’ve made a decision or reacted to a situation in a positive way, and did so all on their own.

We recently received, in the mail, a letter from the Principal at Gus’ school. Correspondence from the Principal is not, generally speaking, a good thing. Your mind races: overdue book fines; detention; he’s abandoned his schooling to run away with the circus – all kinds of alarming things go through your mind. Fortunately, my son’s school also makes it a point to share with parents, the good things a child does. Inside the envelope with the letter was a card recognizing a good deed that Gus was caught doing in school. He had apparently helped someone whose books fell and were strewn all over the hallway. This should come as no surprise, I guess, since last year he received several “gotcha’s” from his teacher – being noticed for doing the right thing. At the end of the last school year he was even presented with the Good Citizenship Award by a State Legislator. Sounds like an Orson Welles movie: Citizen Gus! Anyway, I asked him about the event for which he was now being recognized and he said, “Who gives?!? I do that stuff all the time and they never notice – I just got caught this time!” Okay, I did mention he’s now a teenager, right? So what would a conversation be without a little attitude? Suffice it to say we were proud of him and appreciated the Principal’s notification – he’s doing the right thing, making some good decisions and being a benefit to others – even if he hasn’t taken out the recycling or cleaned his Hamster cage this week.

This proud parent moment reminds me that today is the third Monday in January, which makes it Martin Luther King Jr. Day – a National Holiday observed since 1986. Congress enacted the holiday so Americans would reflect on the principles of equality and nonviolence espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. I am reminded of a couple quotations I had seen some time ago that ring true to me and I am glad to see reflected in some of my son’s behavior:

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Life’s most urgent question is: what are you doing for others?

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes, both quotes are by the man whose legacy we recognize this day, both sentiments that are surely good inspirations for personal improvement, good considerations for each of us, and good principles to see our children practice.

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2 Responses to “Martin Luther King Jr. Day”

  1. Erin McHugh January 22, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    I used to have a hamster… cleaning out “Nigel’s” cage was the worst! I can see why Gus conveniently forgets to tend to the cage. It looks like he certainly makes up for that in other areas- sounds like a great kid!!

  2. Michelle January 24, 2008 at 8:26 am #

    My daughter also received a citizenship award a couple of years ago. We are so proud of her! It helped us to rest ashored that we did something right.