I opened our door to see the sweetest smile in front of me, which was much needed after spending days and days unpacking boxes after our recent move. His big shining eyes made my day before he even spoke. He was holding a plastic bag and said, “My name is Parker, and today we are helping others see. Do you have any old glasses or reading glasses you could donate?” I knew I would never find anything with the mess we were still in, but I told him to come back in a few a days, and I would find some for him. By that time, my husband had heard his sweet voice and came to the door. As Parker stepped off the porch and began walking away he said, “Thanks so much and have a great day ma’am and sir.”
I was blown away by the whole exchange, so I stepped outside figuring I could meet one of his parents. His mom was at the end of our driveway, and I immediately told her how impressed I was and how much I wanted to interview Parker to talk about how he not only ended up on our doorway but also how he learned such amazing manners and public speaking skills. She agreed and after interviewing Parker I feel changed as a person and have new ideas for my own children after listening to his answers to my questions.
Parker J. Swanson is only 6 years old but has already learned the importance of helping his community. When I showed up to the interview at his home, he was waiting outside and was so excited he was going to be interviewed. Before I started asking questions, he told me he already could do fractions and also wanted to show me his coin collections. He was holding a pencil, and I told him he wouldn’t have to write anything down; but after struggling to find my own pen in my purse, he handed me his pencil and said, “It appears you have a pencil problem.”
He had me laughing at his innocent and yet obvious observations as I sat and questioned him. He explained he has a mom and dad and a brother and a dog. He said he was an excellent soccer and basketball player and also loves to swim. Behind me on the refrigerator, he explained he has jobs to do each day, and there was a long list of daily tasks and chores. If he accomplishes ten of those items in a day, he receives 20 minutes of screen time. I was so impressed with that. So many children are playing hours of video games and could use an incentive system that would help them contribute before sitting down to watch TV or play an Xbox. He even showed me his Elf on the Shelf, which I am typically not a fan of, but his Elf does not move until he has completed his daily tasks. I think I could get behind that type of system.
I asked Parker why he was collecting glasses and he answered, “A little bit of light takes out the darkness.” This was amazing to hear from a 6-year-old, and he began explaining he was spending the whole month of December doing special things to help people. I got some help from his mom on the list, which is called Light the World. I think with the year our country has experienced with so much negativity, it is worth considering doing some of these things with your family.
Even though the list started on Dec. 1, you can still go back and try something that inspires you or your children. Some of them are religious. If religion isn’t part of your life there are other options to help out your community any way you can. This is the spirit of the holiday season, and if Parker can spread such joy, then I believe we all can. I am so impressed with him as well as his parents who clearly have spent a great deal of time raising a caring boy who certainly impacted my household.
- Dec. 1: Lift other’s burdens
- Dec. 2: Honor your parents
- Dec. 3: Helps others to see (this is how I came to meet Parker)
- Dec. 4: Worship your Father
- Dec. 5: Heal the sick
- Dec. 6: Read the scriptures
- Dec. 7: Feed the hungry
- Dec. 8: Pray for others
- Dec. 9: Visit the lonely
- Dec. 10: Help people walk
- Dec. 11: Minister to children
- Dec. 12: Teach others
- Dec. 13: Show humility
- Dec. 14: Clothe the naked
- Dec. 15: Worship through song
- Dec. 16: Show compassion
- Dec. 17: Care for your mother
- Dec. 18: Honor the Sabbath
- Dec. 19: Calm the storms
- Dec. 20: See potential in others
- Dec. 21: Forgive others
- Dec. 22: Show gratitude
- Dec. 23: Be a peacemaker
- Dec. 24: Care for your loved ones
Each of us can take a look at this list and find ways to help in our community. We can donate time or money or just be kind to others, and we will already be well on our way to creating light in the world. As Parker has proven, it is never too early to start teaching our children the importance of caring for everyone in the community and showing compassion every chance we get. Love is the only thing that will ever wipe out hate and a 6-year-old gave me a wonderful reminder of that on a day I really needed to feel peace.
Katie Coombs is the host of the radio show “Uncommon Sense with Katie Coombs.” You can reach her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UncommonSenseKC/.