celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘arcade

For the past few weeks, our three year old has been mesmerized by the Chuck E. Cheese commercials on TV, where “a kid can be a kid!” He gazes longingly at all the fun the children are having then turns to us and proclaims, “I want to be a kid, too!” Every time he says this, it makes us laugh. Of COURSE you want to be a kid! You are one!

We finally carved enough time in our busy schedule to make his wish come true, because every kid deserves to be a kid at least once, right? Little did we know at this time, but this would be a perfect opportunity to bless others (and be blessed ourselves!)

We decided to make it a dinner event, so upon entering Chuck E. Cheese, we ordered a large pizza for the kids and the salad buffet for ourselves. I didn’t have a coupon for the buffet (only for tokens), but the generous cashier said, “I’ll just give you the discount price anyway!” How sweet! It put a smile on my face to be on the receiving end of a RAK.

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As I returned to the buffet for another amazing salad, a lady tapped me on the shoulder. “Would you like to have this? We are leaving and don’t have time to use it.” She handed me a coupon for 10 free tokens! Another random act of kindness received! Wow! Twice in one night! What a pleasant surprise!

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It was then that I knew it was my turn to pass along the blessings to others. I put my salad on the table and joined the long cashier’s line to claim my free tokens. As I got closer to the front of the line, I noticed a boy wearing all red standing to the side, shifting from one foot to the other. It appeared that he was waiting for his turn to get tokens, too, as I saw him folding and unfolding a dollar bill while he waited. He never once tried to push his way in front of anyone, but he also didn’t join the back of the line and wait his turn. He simply stood there, in the front, moving from side to side, almost willing someone to have mercy on him and let him in.

That person was me. 🙂

“Why don’t you go next? You’ve been waiting quite a while!” His grin spoke volumes of appreciation. And sure enough, he was getting tokens. Four golden tokens in exchange for his crumpled dollar bill.

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A few moments later, I was exiting the line, 10 tokens in hand, ready to pass along my blessings. Remembering the squeals of delight my children would share when they found an unexpected coin in an arcade, I decided to leave my tokens on popular games, right in plain sight, ready to be discovered by children young and old.

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The best part of this random act of kindness was observing my tokens being discovered by children. As expected, there were smiles and squeals of delight! Mission accomplished! One girl, who used my token to play Skeeball, turned to her mom and dad and proudly said, “Look at all my tickets! And I got them all for free!”

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I think my favorite moment of the night came when I saw a young girl gazing longingly at the Cinderella coach, complete with a pair of majestic horses ready to pull the princess anywhere her heart desired. The girl walked around the ride at least twice when I leaned down and asked, “Would you like to be a princess and ride on this?” Her eyes grew wide as I handed her my very last token. “Go ahead. It’s OK! Put the token in the slot and you can ride.” She put her Barney doll down long enough to use the token, then grabbed him again and settled down for the ride. Her smile was simply priceless!

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As I stood there, watching all the children enjoy “just being a kid”, I felt the now familiar lump in my throat as my thoughts traveled yet again to those precious children from Sandy Hook Elementary. It made me want to hug my own children so tightly and never let go.

Tonight I dedicate this act of kindness to Charlotte Bacon, age 6, a “sweet, outgoing and full of energy” little girl with a head of beautiful red curls. I am sure she would have loved to share the joy of just being a kid with others.

Be blessed and remember… opportunities to bless others might just begin when you find yourself being blessed instead!

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Last night I decided to celebrate the life of James Mattioli, age 6. I discovered through the internet that he was actually 6 and 3/4 and was “quick to remind everyone” of his exact age. Like many boys his age, he was active. He loved playing outside. Riding his bike. Swimming. He enjoyed playing inside, too, especially on his iPad. I learned that he was born four weeks early and his family would joke it was because he was hungry. Apparently James loved to eat, too, lol.

As I was standing in line with my family at Stevie B’s, a local all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, I began to think of James and how much he would love this restaurant. Endless rows of pizza with combinations galore. You could even request your own pizza to be made just to your specifications. In the back of the restaurant was a small arcade/game room where children could use tokens like quarters and earn tickets from various games of skill and luck to be traded in for trinkets and prizes. Yes, it’s hard to think of any child that wouldn’t want to come here for dinner.

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My thoughts were interrupted by the cashier’s friendly voice. “Would you like to buy some game tokens with your dinner?” We always get game tokens (although we try to teach our children the value of money by having them purchase their own tokens from time to time.) This evening, I bought three packs of tokens: one for my son, one for my daughter, and one for James.

As the cashier handed me my charge receipt to sign, I returned one container of tokens with my #26acts card and said, “Please hand this to the next person who comes in line to purchase tokens for their child. It’s a random act of kindness for James.” The cashier paused as she read my card, obviously surprised, and replied, “Yes… yes… wow, that is really sweet.” I made sure to put James’ EXACT age on the card, too. 🙂

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A little while later, as we were finishing our mealtime and about to head home, I walked back to the arcade/game room. It was a very small room, but alive with sparkling lights, bells and whistles, and happy smiles all around. The redemption counter was surrounded by children, all about the age of James, patiently waiting their turn to transfer tickets into prizes. I felt a lump in my throat as I thought of my own children who love coming here and playing the games. Ordinarily the bright lights and giddy chatter might give me a headache, but tonight it was pure bliss. Oh, to be a child again, without a care in the world. Such pure and innocent joy.

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For the person who received my random act of kindness tonight, I hope your child spun the big wheel and landed on the jackpot, receiving 100 tickets with the cost of only one token. Please share your joy by paying it forward. For James, I hope your memory will live on in the smiles and laughter of others as they remember what it’s like to be a child.

Be blessed my friends and be inspired! 🙂

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid in an arcade? Some of my earliest memories of arcade fun include birthday parties at Chuck E. Cheese and Bullwinkles, playing games to earn tickets that could be redeemed for trinkets and prizes. (If only the pinball machines at the Peaches record store gave out tickets and prizes! Oh wait… Did I just reveal my age yet again by referencing a record store?)

Once when I was eight years old, my dad emptied his huge glass coin jar where he kept his spare change and told me to sort out all the quarters. There must have been 80 quarters in that jar! Little did I know at the time, but my dad was planning his own random act of kindness for me. After I had all the coins separated in neat piles (assuming we were going to put them in rolls and deposit them in the bank), he told me to grab all the quarters because we were going to spend each and every one! On arcade games! Just the two of us! Even now, more than 30 years later, I can still remember the complete and utter joy of that moment. Pure bliss!

Well, my children get just as excited about going to any type of arcade, whether it’s Chuck E. Cheese, Stevie B’s or Dave and Buster’s. One day as I was having a Mommy date with my boys, I decided to surprise them with a visit to a local arcade. Since this is a rare event, they were ecstatic to transform their crisp dollar bills into shiny gold tokens to spend on any game of their choice. I don’t know what was more fun: watching them walk from game to game pondering which game would provide the best probability for tickets, or watching them actually playing the games!

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As I walked from game to game, I noticed the other children in the arcade. Several had parents or grandparents nearby, but there were a few who wandered around, looking longingly at games they had no tokens to play. I saw one young boy stoop to the floor to look under the game stool, apparently searching for a discarded token possibly left by mistake.

And then I knew. My next Random Act of Kindness! As my children were cashing out their tickets at the gift counter, I quickly ran to the token machine and purchased a few dollars worth of tokens.

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I then went around and strategically left the tokens where they could be found by others.

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I even made sure to leave two tokens for the more expensive games.

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Oh to be a child again! The absolute bliss to receive an unexpected surprise! Sure, this act of kindness cost me a dollar or two, but I think it was money well spent. Nothing can beat putting a smile on a child’s face. 🙂

Be blessed, my friends, and think of how YOU can bless a child today!

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