“You want to do a good deed?” I asked. “Fantastic! What would you like to do?”“No, Mummy, have a good deed. On the tree!”
She pointed to a stick tree at the back of the room, covered in little paper leaves, each with a couple of lines of handwriting.“It’s the good deed tree!” she yelled. “I want a good deed on the tree!”
A good deed tree now? Clearly another memo I forgot to read. I frowned and went to check it out.Joshy was kind to his sister this morning, read one leaf.
Bella helped to make her bed, read another.“You write one and you put it on the tree!” Boo told me helpfully. “Then the teacher she reads them!”
I looked more closely. Max, Gemma, Zac, Eden... they all had their leaves on the tree. It seemed that poor little Boo was the only child with no good deed. Clearly, I had failed again. No good deed for Mummy.“Can you write I make a bed?” Boo asked.
I thought for a minute. “Boo, you haven’t ever made the bed. I don’t think I can write that.”“Just write it!” she said. I considered it for a moment, but didn’t feel comfortable lying about a good deed. Wasn’t that some sort of sin?
“Why don’t you make the bed?” I asked her. “Then I can write it for the tree!”Boo shook her head. “I don’t want to make a bed. I just want a good deed!” I sighed.
We said goodbye to the teachers, and trudged outside to the car.“Why don’t you clean up the Lego at home and I’ll write that on the good deed tree?” I suggested.
“I don’t want to clean up my Lego. Just write it!”“But darling you have to actually do the good deed, that’s the whole point of the exercise.”
“Mum, I don’t think she really understands you,” ten year old Pinkela piped up from the backseat. She is always the voice of reason. I called on her for help.“Will you explain the concept of the good deed tree to Boo?”
Pinkela put on her Big Sister face and her most reasonable voice. “Boo, you have to do a Good deed to get a leaf on the tree. What would you like to be your good deed? Would you like to help me make your bed and then we can write that on the tree?”“NO!” Boo yelled. “I don’t want to make my bed. Just write it on the tree! Do it!”
“Er, Mum?” said Pinkela. “I think she understands.”All the way home I contemplated the dilemma. Do I write Boo a good deed for doing nothing at all? Or do I withhold the leaf, and allow her to continue as the only child in the pre-school not featured on the tree?
In the end, I compromised. I didn’t lie, but I wasn’t scrupulously honest, either. I gave Boo her leaf, but it had a hopeful tone, and used ‘always’ in the sense of ‘sometimes’.Boo always puts her dishes in the sink, I wrote, and I pinned the leaf to the tree.
Boo beamed, I smiled, and we both felt happy. And that was truly a good deed.