September 20, 2013

On Being Kind....

I was walking into work a few days ago (you know, at a pediatrician's office) when I saw an older grandmother in front of me juggling three kids trying to scoot them into the building: a baby in a stroller, a straggling toddler, and a school aged kid who was moving as slow as molasses. She dropped something on the ground so I shuffled a little faster through my morning fog, picked it up, ran to open the door for them and handed the toy back to her. She sighed a deep breath- I thought it was frustration- but then she looked at me and said "thank you baby for being so kind, I have my hands full".

Her words  warmed my heart more than my hot tea on a cold fall morning. I had a little pep as I walked back to my office. It was so simple. Being kind is easy. I started to think about simple kindness. I'm not talking flying to Africa to help orphans or donating millions. Just everyday, simple things that make a difference for someone else.

A few months ago, I was in the mall. I saw a dad with a little girl dressed in a princess dress, crown, wand. Do you know what he did when he heard another little girl whining and begging her mom for one? He bent down, held his daughter's hand, whispered something quietly... and then I saw the little girl hand her wand over. The other child was now a princess too. See that? He not only acted kindly, but taught his daughter kindness.

A few years ago, before my mom retired, she taught kids who had a lot less than we did growing up. She knew they should bring in their own snacks but often parents forgot or couldn't afford it or kids skipped breakfast. Like clockwork, just when she was about to run out of her classroom stash of snacks, my dad bought a huge plastic containers of pretzels and stocked them in her car. She carried them into her classroom and without ever mentioning it or acting like it was a kind deed at all, she fed any of her students who needed something.  She and my dad define kind.

My brother has always been a good guy. He stands up for what's right. Questions people when they don't- as if being kind is indeed the only choice. Last week he was visiting my parents. He has a new employee who lives nearby and doesn't know many people. He invited him over to dinner with my entire family because he didn't want him to feel lost in his new environment. An open door, an open invitation.

Here's the thing- if there's anything my parents have instilled in us, it's this: be kind to others. Just that. No "because they may need it" or "because if you're not they won't be nice to you". Just be kind. Smile at people. A hand on the shoulder or a hug goes a long way. Hold the door. Pick up something if someone drops it. Look for the best in people. I guess, I owe them a big thank you.

As a parent, I so greatly hope I teach Sienna this well- that I give her a standing example to emulate. I hope that I encourage her to understand that the only difference between big sweeping gestures and small good kind deeds is the attention you get but that both can be incredibly important.

Don't underestimate the importance of the little things. They sure go a long way.

Happy Friday, friends.



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