Thursday, May 19, 2011

A culture of kindness

So the job I was offered involved teaching, and it made me realize that those who taught my children in preschool certainly didn’t do it for the money. And, as a good friend pointed out, it made me so thankful for every time one of those teachers was especially kind to my children.

Caroline’s preschool teacher would start every day with a quiet Caroline on her lap, reading a story. Jack’s kindergarten teacher would have him email me in those first few days of school when he missed me so much his “heart hurt.” (Yes, it totally killed me, and I would’ve home schooled but the kids like recess.)

And then I realized that if one is to shift their paradigm a little bit, there is still a culture of kindness alive, even with all the war and terrorism and crime and unemployment and crazy gas prices and competition for everything.

I see it when Caroline races to catch up with the girl in her class who has Down’s Syndrome, and as I watch her invent silly songs to make the little girl giggle.

I see it when a neighbor yells “Thanks!” to the guys hauling away her trash and is rewarded with a huge smile.

I see it when someone drops off an unexpected treat, or sends a flower home with one of my kids after a play date.

I see it when I go out of town and my neighbor checks on my dad every day, or someone else brings in my trash cans so it doesn’t look like no one’s home.

I see it when a little kindergartener tells his mom he fell out of his chair and everyone laughed at him, except Jack.

I see it when someone I’m not allowed to mention in my blog secretly takes a very sick little boy and his dad to a hockey playoff game, knowing they’d love it but that they couldn’t afford the tickets because of their insane medical bills.

I see it when a local computer guy comes over to fix my dad’s computer for free, accepting only my thanks and the bottle of wine I make him take home for his wife.

I see it when Whit very quietly transfers his unused vacation days to the empty account of one of his employees who really needs a break.

I see it when a dear friend fights the downtown crowds so she can try to cheer me on as I run a race. Or sends her handy husband over to fix something I can’t figure out.

I see it when Whit’s out of town and it’s late and I need something, like Motrin for a sick kid, and one call has it delivered to my door.

I see it when someone could be critical or gossipy and consciously chooses to say something nice instead.

I see it when anyone does something thoughtful without a single expectation of recognition or thanks.

It’s so easy for me to focus on the stress. (There's so much of it.) Or the to-do’s. (There are so many of them.) It’s so easy for me to say something unkind because it’s funny or I need to vent.

But. (Yes, I am about to sound like a dork.)

But it’s just as easy to focus on all the little kindnesses around me every single day.

And it’s really amazing to me that it’s contagious, and that focusing on those kindnesses sparks kindness in me, and I pay it forward without even thinking about it.

I guess I’ll always be a work in progress, and I’ll always have a long list of things about myself that must be improved.

But I'm going to try to pay attention.

Because baby steps are good, right?

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