I was humbled a couple of weeks ago when a friend, editor and teacher extraordinaire, I might add, took my novel, stayed up with it all night at emailed me her copy edits at 5am the following morning.
Talk about kindness.
Last week, I had the opportunity to do the same with another friend’s novel. It just landed in my lap, (Okay, he may have thrown it my way, but my lap caught it), and I sent in my copy edits for his review. I didn’t feel special. I didn’t feel amazing. I didn’t feel like I had gone out of my way, doing something I enjoy doing for someone I like and respect. But I knew how it felt to be on the receiving end, and I knew that author may have been humbled as well, thinking the simple words, thank you, might not be enough. They are, of course.
On the other side of my world, my children started school last week. On the first day, they were excited to be in new schools, with old teachers, meet new friends, have new schedules, new clothes, contacts for one, new reading glasses for another….their positive list was endless. I was amazed.
I had one rule for them, and I begged them to follow it.
No matter how you feel, how your day is going, what you are going through, be kind.
Do you wish to make new friends? Be kind.
Do you wish to meet new people? Be kind.
Do you want to heal old relationships? Be kind.
Would you like to get to know someone better? Be kind.
Did someone say something mean to you? Be kind. (And know you are worth more than hurtful words)
No one is perfect. But we can all be humble. I encourage my children to lift up their peers. I encourage my children to help people feel good about themselves. Many of us know how it feels to be hurt by someone’s actions or someone’s words. It can ruin a day. I ask my children to be the person that makes someone smile when they feel a frown taking over their beautiful face.
Last Friday, after three days of parties, hugs, laughter, and lots of first week of school smiles, one of my kids came home and told me something another child had said sometime during the day. It was hurtful. It was painful. It was personal. It was something I tried all weekend to let go. But I struggled. This isn’t the first time this particular child has said something hurtful to my child. No parent wants to see their child hurting.
As adults, we have to deal with stresses each day we decide, or have, to enter the world. As parents, we often expect we will send out children out into a place where dangers are prevalent, but we know they will be protected. Either by adults around them, children who adore them, or our love that will be with them when they are away from us. As children, they often expect to head out into a big world of joy, rainbows, and beautiful sunsets. A world where we all feel the same, and we only want to exist – together – in a place of joy.
It’s heartbreaking when a child climbs into a parent’s car with a somber look and sad eyes, only to say, ‘Someone hurt my feelings today.’ Sticks and stones hurt. Words will never hurt me? That couldn’t be more wrong. I sat on this one hurtful thing all weekend, thinking of the joy I’d had with the child that said this over the years. Thinking of the joy I’d given to my child. And wondering where I’d failed if I’d let something so menial bother me so much.
Bother me, it did.
My response to my child was, “What did you say?”
“You told me to be kind, so I said, ‘That’s sad. But okay.'”
It was sad. My child didn’t argue, didn’t fight back with another hurtful sentence, didn’t take the pain experienced and throw it back into someone else’s court.
It was sad this child felt the need to say this to my child. It was sad this child learned this was an acceptable thing to do. It was sad to know a friendship was broken – again.
But my child was humbled.
It wasn’t the first time.
Last week, when someone offered kindness with nothing expected in return, certainly wasn’t my first humbling experience either.
But both experiences reminded us the connection being humble and being kind have with one another. One exists because of the other. The other exists because there is a new view because of the other.
Kindness matters. I hope we can all make it our choice. I’m proud to say, though we are not perfect, my family, my children, will grow knowing, and maybe learning more along the way than knowing all the time, to be humble and to be kind. No matter what might be thrown at them.
Be at least a reason for someone’s smile today.