Are you a bucket filler, or a scooping thief?

Tonight, during our very long drive home from school, Audrey asked me a fairly simple question. 

"Mom," she said, "do you know about buckets of happiness?" I had heard about them in passing, but I didn't know much about them at all. So I asked her to explain them to me. 

"You see, Mom, everyone has a personal bucket. Some people naturally have full buckets, and some people need a little help filling them," she started. "Some of my friends are really good at filling buckets--that means that they do nice things, and help people when they need it. As they are nice and kind and helpful, they add scoops to someone's bucket. Sometimes a bucket can even overflow!" She paused, and then rolled her eyes at my silence. "That means that they are really happy, Mom."

Thanks, Bubs. I got that. 

"Sometimes, though, people can say or do mean things to other people. They might tease someone for having a dirty shirt, or take a toy that someone else was clearly playing with." Again, she pauses. When she starts speaking again, she saids fairly annoyed. "Those people, Mom, are thieves. They are so worried about themselves, and their own feelings, that they stop thinking about how what they do affects people. Those people are the ones that steal scoops from other people's buckets." 

After giving her a second to calm down, I asked her why she thinks that other people need to take scoops from someone else's bucket. She is quiet for a very long time. 

"I think, Mom, that they do it because their own buckets get so low. So very low that they forget that the people around them are their friends, and that they love them. They decide that it is more important to fill their own bucket, because they are hurt or afraid or feeling left out." Before I can ask any further questions, Audrey says the most remarkable thing to me. 

"When my bucket is very low, and no one around me seems to notice, I walk over to someone that is playing alone or looks sad. And instead of stealing from their bucket, I do a silly dance or make a joke or ask them if I can play with them. I decided that it doesn't feel good to steal scoops from someone else; I would much rather give them scoops, even if I don't have many in my bucket at all. Some of the kids at school think that if they give scoops to other people, that they are losing scoops from their own bucket. But they aren't! They are creating LOTS of scoops, enough to add one to their friends' bucket as well as their own. And that's why we should always do nice things, Mom. We don't know why a kid has an empty bucket--he could have forgotten his lunch, or maybe he has mean parents or a mean brother or sister. So we should just be nice to everyone, and add scoops to everyone's bucket. Because no one wins when you are mean." 

I cannot begin to count the number of times in her short life that Audrey has taught me an important lesson, but tonight was by far my favourite. 

Everyone has a choice in life--they can either be a bucket filler, or they can be a scooping thief. We could use a few more bucket fillers in this world.