October 14, 2011

No Good Deed For Me

At pick-up time at pre-school, three year old Boo tugged on my sleeve. “Mummy,” she said, “I want to have a good deed!”

“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.


  1. Oh my, that's a curly one.  You did well.

  2. I reckon there is not a day that goes by where there isn't a parenting dilemma.  I'm sure I didn't see that in the rule book - actually I think I missed the rule book. 

  3. "Clearly another memo I forgot to read". You had me at this line! But I excuse myself often by reminding myself that it's hard to read said memo's when continue to line the bottom of the school bag!

  4. I hope the good deed tree idea never makes its way to our pre-school.

    You could always write "Boo gave mummy helpful advice"

  5. That's a great idea, the tree thing. And great save on the dilemma!

  6. I think his tree is insidious... what happened to doing a good deed for selfless reasons?? Kerry, I think you should have refrained on principle. Mind you, my son is 8 months old, incapable of pestering and we have only just received our first teacher's note in his daycare bag...

  7. I like the tree idea - I am all for positive reinforcement & encouragement & all that stuff. Good job on getting out of a sticky situation!

  8. She's going to rule the world some day - get other people to do the crap stuff.  Good on you Boo!

  9. I'm glad I'm not the only one who forgets to read the school/kindy notes ;)  Sometimes I think I'm the only one!  Very good save though... I'm impressed!

  10. That's beautiful, Kerri. I'm hopeless with the school notes (too many bloody pieces of paper to keep up with!!). I might try a Good Deed Tree at home. My girls are quite competitive, maybe this will help with dishes/cleaning etc. Now you've done another Good Deed by planting this idea in my head xxx

  11. I have been holding onto a note requesting v specific information about my child as a baby. Two problems. I had no idea which child had brought note home and I am scratching my head trying to recall the answers to what baby did when. Might just have to make it up. Another good deed. 

  12. You had to write one?? I have to write one EVERY PRESCHOOL MORNING. Which, now on child 3 and the 6th year of writing these notes, means that sometimes they read along the lines of "Toby ate his breakfast so nicely this morning". I can give you LOADS of good deed ideas for the child who hasn't done any that you can remember!

  13. You could write this, "Boo gave Mummy lovely cuddles which made her feel happy"


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