It Started With A Cape—Can we write a better ending?

It started with a bright boy, eyes shinning running with a cape on his back.  “I’m Batman, overcoming darkness and avenging evil!” He shrieks as he chases his brother through the halls of a middle class well appointed home.

Versions of this story are told and loved by many but today one little boy became a man playing the force of evil while he terrorized and slaughtered families, friends and lovers who were attending a midnight showing of Batman III in a theater located in small town of Colorado .  This act was not pretend for those who were caught up in a man-boy fantasy seeded by today’s entertainment.

Was it the escalating emphasis of darkness each version of “The Batman” exhibited?  Could it be hours of playing killing games on the most popular gaming products?  Was it a lack of connection to society and family?  Perhaps today’s popular antidepressants gave life to role playing that was never meant to see the acuteness of reality.

I hurt for the loss of life, I’m saddened by the tragedy of this young man’s choices, but most of all I feel the call to action more today than ever before to fight for our children’s mental well-being.  We can’t fix the past but we can build a better future and I believe it starts with our children.

Did you hug your child today…just a bit tighter?
Did you tell them how special they are and how much you care?
Did you say I love you?
Do you listen to their dreams and wishes?
To their problems and fears?
Do you respect them?
Do you know how and where they are spending their time?
Are the activities those that you wish them to emulate?
Do you explain consequences and correct in a loving controlled manner?
Can you say yes often but no when you should?
Can you believe in them enough that they believe in themselves too?
Can you give enough room for them to be an unique individual?
Yet guide them away from the wrong path?
Can you teach them compassion and selflessness?
Will you dare to protect them from our society’s loss of values?

Our world is so sophisticated, filled with self indulgence, violence, greed and envy. But it is also filled with amazing people, opportunities and love.

We have to be alert and in tune with our children.  Love will conquer much but it cannot replace guidance.  Remember today that your innocent boy or girl will grow to become all that he or she has absorbed.  You only have a few years to build the foundation for the rest of their lives.  Choose what they play with, what they absorb carefully; it contributes more to their destiny than we could ever know.

May God heal those who were affected and give us wisdom to build a better path for our young.

Ellen Callen posted in support of affected families and memory of those lost.

35% Discount Coupon Activity for Fun and Savings

Only for our blog followers and their friends.  Spread the word and save 35% on toys and crafts for girls and their 18″ dollfriends.

Summer is a fun time. Via E offers 35% off all our product to help make this summer super!  Right-click to print this coupon activity.

A Story of Kindness for Girls

Introduction to Alex’s Ten Acts of Kindness Story for Girls

 It all started one day before school…

“Alex, are you ready for school?” Mom yelled down the hall towards my bedroom. “I have breakfast ready!” Still tying my hair back in a rubber band, I started towards the kitchen. Mmmm, the smell of freshly-made french toast and warm maple syrup circled the kitchen like a heavenly wreath. I plopped down on my favorite stool while twisting the rubber band around my hair one final time just as Mom slid a plate of sunny-side-up eggs in front of me. “I’ll have your french toast for you right after you finish your eggs,” Mom said with a wink and a smile.

Just over her shoulder was a small computer monitor built into the cabinet. Most of the time, Mom uses it to find new recipes on her favorite blogs or cooking web sites, but today, she was logged on to a news site that was showing a video clip of a girl who had lost her dog during a bad storm. “That is so sad,” I said. “I wish I could do something to help.”

Mom looked at me with deep blue eyes that could cure any girl’s sadness and said, “Kindness is like a butterfly: it visits but a moment, leaving a lasting gift of happiness wherever it travels. Happy people share their joy with friends, and so the circle of happiness grows from person to person. All you need to do is be the butterfly and touch people with your happiness to start a wave of caring.” Mom continued, “I have a challenge for you. Today at school, look for ten girls to share your happiness and be their butterfly. You will be surprised how much good you can do in just one day of caring. Although you may not know the little girl who lost her dog, in her honor, you can help to heal the hearts of other girls who may be sad.”

I thought about what Mom said as I swirled the last bite of french toast in syrup. Hmm, ten girls, I thought. “Mom,” I said, “what if I really want to help, but I feel shy?”

“Shyness is part of the beauty of a butterfly; they flutter close enough to make us smile and only land when they feel safe. You see, sometimes, a simple smile or warm hello is all that is needed to plant a seed of happiness in someone’s day.” I looked up at the monitor with the picture of the sad little girl and then at my mom and decided today I would do ten acts of kindness—I would be a butterfly.

I hopped off the kitchen stool and swooped down to pick up my backpack and lunchbox. Before heading out the door to meet Elena—my best friend, who lives next door—I grabbed a pen out of the drawer near the telephone. Quickly, I drew an outline of a butterfly on my hand to remind me of my mission. Then I kissed Mom on the cheek and headed out the door and down the street to Elena’s house.

A strange thing happened on the way to Elena’s house: a bright yellow butterfly with pink circles on the wings fluttered just in front of me as if to ask me to stop. I slowly lowered my backpack to the ground and stood very still. The butterfly flew up and down as if to dance on the soft breeze of the morning. The sunlight on the butterfly’s wings made them look almost unreal, like a cartoon or Disney character. Just as I reached down to pick up my backpack, the butterfly landed gently on my hand … right where I had drawn the outline of a butterfly just moments earlier in the kitchen! It stayed for just a moment and then danced off with the next breeze.

I felt happy and special that the butterfly chose to visit me, and I wondered if it was just by accident the butterfly landed on me or if it was because I had stopped and wished her to be my friend—even if only for a moment. Glancing up the street, I could see Elena waving and shouting, “Alex, hurry! We are going to be late for school!” I grabbed my backpack and ran down the street.

In the back seat of Elena’s mom’s car, Elena was jabbering about the soccer game she had played the day before. I was listing quietly as I gazed out the car window, looking and smiling at her every now and then—I just couldn’t get my mind off the butterfly. Then … “Ms. Mary, Ms. Mary, stop!” Startled, Elena’s mom, Ms. Mary, pulled over and stopped the car on the side of the road. Before Ms. Mary could say a word, I opened the car door and ran to help her—a little girl sitting on the side of the road. Her books were spread across the sidewalk, and her knees scraped and dirty. I didn’t even think of being shy when I reached down to grab her hand to help her up. “Are you okay?” I said.

With big, brown eyes wet with tears, the little girl looked at me. “They ran away from me,” she said. “My sister and her friends.” The little girl continued, “I tried to run as fast as I could, but I tripped, and all my books fell out of my backpack.”

Ms. Mary was now standing over us with a first aid kit in hand. “Well, now, girls,” Ms. Mary started, “let’s see what we can do to make this a better day.” Like my mom, Ms. Mary had kind eyes and a way about her that made you feel all warm inside. Ms. Mary cleaned up the girl’s knees as I gathered the books and packed them neatly inside her backpack. Together, we walked back to the car and then headed down the road.

We caught the school bell just as it rang for us to go inside. Jumping out of the car, now wearing a big smile, the little girl said, “Thank you for helping me!” Then she ran off to join her friends.

I was standing in line, listening to my classmates busily chat while waiting for our teacher, when I glanced over towards the little girl once more. Her friends were circled around her as if they were all looking at something. The circle erupted in excited giggles and cheers just as a yellow butterfly fluttered up and out of their reach. Smiling, I looked at my hand where I had drawn the outline of the butterfly and said, “Nine more to go.”

Follow Alex as she finishes her acts of kindness and finds at some point she stopped counting them and kindness became a habit.  The book combines color illustration with illustrations that are designed for girls to color so they become involved in the story.  At the end is a place for girls to write a list of their own ten acts of kindness.  We also inserted a page to encourage girls to write their own story and email it to us for publishing on our future writer’s site.  For home schoolers or quite time between you and your daughter, we created the Ten Acts of Kindness Activity Book.  This book breaks each act of kindness into a mini lesson and a special activity to reinforce the valuable lessons found inside this story.  Our online parent guide provides a free lesson outline and additional resources to learn more.

We chose this story to be our first published work because we believe learning can be fun and books about traditional values such as kindness might encourage girls to love helping others vs. focus on becoming someone who dreams of being the center of her own social universe such as what is portrayed in today’s media.  True beauty is found within and we hope to support the growth of such beauty in all girls.

You can find more fun for girls at Via-E.com.

Many warm wishes,  Ellen

Copyright © 2010 by Via E, Inc. All rights reserved.  Alex and Elena are a trade marks of Via E, Inc.