"When my granddaughter, Heather, was a little girl, it was my delight to be able to watch over her during the day while her parents worked. Though usually a happy toddler, on one particular day, Heather awakened from her nap in a cranky mood, and from her perspective nothing seemed to be going right. Aggravated because she couldn't get a toy to work as she wanted, her temper finally erupted in all its tiny fury and in the midst of the resulting tantrum, she knocked over a small vase I kept on a nearby table, spilling water and scattering the few flowers it contained across the floor.
"'Don't act that way, Sweetheart,' I scolded as I cleaned up the mess made by the spill. 'You hurt Granny's feelings when you treat my things that way.'
"A few minutes later, having left Heather to play in her toy room while I unloaded the dishwasher, I was surprised when she came to me and tugged on my shirt for attention. 'I'm so sorry, Granny,' she said, her bottom lip quivering, her big brown eyes pooled with tears, one spilling over to run down her cheek. 'I wouldn't hurt you for anything.'
"I reached down and scooped her little body into my arms and held her tight as the last remnants of her fragile composure vanished and she broke into sobs, her little face wet with tears as she burrowed her head against my neck. Tears sprang into my own eyes and for several minutes we stood there in my kitchen, holding on to each other for dear life, my heart as touched by her pain as hers had been touched by her perception of mine.
"Until that day, I had always thought that as a responsible parent and grandparent, compassion and kindness were traits I needed to instill in the children placed within my care. Heather taught me, however, that children come with kindness and compassion built right in. Our job is not to instill it, but to nurture it and watch as it grows and blossoms."
In 100 years, it won't matter what house you lived in, what car you drove,
or even what your clothes looked like. What will matter is that you made a difference in the life of a child.
- Dr. Forest E. Witcraft