The Most Undervalued, Never Talked About Quality

I have had over 16 years of education, together my boys have had 31 years of schooling and not once was kindness on the curriculum. I don’t blame the teachers, that wouldn’t be nice, and the job of teaching kids kindness does not fall on teachers alone, but can you imagine if they did talk about it at school? What if instead of bullying we were encouraged to be proactively nice?What if at the end of the year awards we could give a nice award to the child who exemplified the best kind of kindness? Wouldn’t that be something? 

We have to be so careful in this world of disengaging technology, that kindness does not go the way of learning script or Saturday mail. Being kind may be as old as the antiquities but it should not be foreign to our 21st Century Life.

There are more ways to be kind than there are petals on the entire world’s daisy population. There’s smiling, holding open doors, thanking people for their efforts and then the big stuff like philanthropy and service. 

But maybe that’s the problem. Are we leaving being nice to someone else? 

I just finished a wonderful book called Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is a book targeted for middle school but it should be required reading for everyone. It is about a boy with horrifying facial deformities who goes to school for the first time. It is a really good book, which means it is balanced and plenty so plenty of realistically bad things happen.

But just like in life, there are moments, teachers, surprising friends that reach above the startling look of this boy’s face and they can see the boy beneath the disfigurement.

This book made me feel so good I wanted to share it with you, it seemed like a nice thing to do. And those of you with younger but appropriately aged kids could read it out loud and discuss the very realistic way kids treat each other.

But even if you don’t read the book, let’s all pretend that being nice is important to us. Let’s model it for our children and hold it as high as our standards for honor roll and Varsity letters.

After all, the world needs lots of things, but without kindness, nothing would really matter. And what’s even sillier, is that despite our very different talents, the ability to be nice is universal. Ah, now that’s a nice thought.

Learning How To Love…Again

Okay, no one died or got divorced, but at 50 I find myself once again a student of love. I am trying to relearn how to mother and love my three adolescent boys who at 18, 16, and 14 are surprisingly different creatures than the smiling toddlers I swirled and twirled around the room.

I can’t carry them anymore, literally or figuratively. A Goldfish cracker doesn’t elicit the rapture and love that they once did. I am not always in charge. Their new activities are fascinating, driving, girlfriends, enigmatic computer games, but none of those things require my participation. The world may not be flat, but our solar system has changed. I am not the thing they rotate around anymore.

And that’s good. But it’s hard. As an involved (hopefully not Tiger, or Helicopter) parent I still love these boys. In fact, I love them even more than when they came out of the womb bald and bawling. But how do I express myself to these three children who are finding their independence as they get older?

I’m learning. I listen a lot. No one seems to care if I know a better way to do something or how hard to study for their SATs or what girl to take to prom or what clothes to wear. 

I sneak kisses and hugs wherever I can find them. And I try to tell them that I love them everyday. 

I inquire a lot more because I am no longer the director of their days.

I try to support them verbally as they make good choices. And I try hard to let them have some independence.

It’s hard. But it’s worth it, they are never going to be babies again, but I will always be their mother. And so I will always be on the look out for the best way to love them.