Last week I was driving behind a school bus as it delivered morning kindergarten students to their prospective bus stops.
My windows were down, the sunroof was open, the sun was shining, and my heart warmed as I heard one father eagerly ask his daughter, “Did you get a gold star today?” as she jumped off the bus. She nodded her head with a beaming smile as he gave her a bear hug.
Initially I thought it was so sweet, this dad genuinely inquiring about his youngster's morning at school. But then another thought occurred to me.
When do we stop being graded on our daily behavior?
Stars, smiley faces, and green, yellow and red circles are awarded to children every day at school based on the way they act toward one another, how respectful they are to the teacher, and if they follow the rules.
Naturally, this is a hypothetical sort of question, but it caused me to pause and ponder this concept.
If adults knew they were being graded, day in and day out on their actions and words, would we live in a better society? Would people be more conscious of their criticisms, their judgments on others? Would they be more kind?
I know there are days where I would certainly go from the green to the yellow color on the stoplight chart. Depending on what’s going on, I might even drop to red. Fortunately I’m at a point in life where no one is calling home to tell my mom that I’ve been a naughty girl.
But what if they did? Sounds silly at this point in life, but in a way it would be an interesting study in adult behavior.
Out of a group of 100 adults on any given day, how many would get the gold star? How many would drop to yellow circle on the stoplight? How many might end up with a frown face on their daily behavior chart?
Some days my patience is worn thin. I’m more likely to yell at my kids when I should really be taking a step back and communicating in a calmer tone. I would have to give myself a yellow light on that.
Or maybe I’ll go the extra mile to have something baked fresh when they walk in the door. Certainly that earns me a gold star for the day, right?
Let’s try our own little experiment this week and see how many gold stars we can put on our behavior charts! What have you done to earn a green circle on the stoplight?
Or better yet, maybe we can share some encouragment by awarding our friends with smiley faces in a public comment. Think about it ... who do you know who has done something "gold-star-worthy" today?