Years ago when my kids were young — maybe one in early elementary and one late preschool — my best friend from childhood visited us. Afterwards we texted each other with lists of what was transforming about our time together. My friend said she noticed how kind I was to me kids. I thought, really, you noticed that? And my heart soared.
I don’t point this out to say I’m the best parent ever. I’m not trying to win an award, make myself feel fantastic, or make you, the reader, wonder if you are kind enough to your kids.
But years later I find myself teaching kids writing, subbing in as a teacher’s assistant and coaching a running group after also being a Girl Scout leader. This has given me so much time to make so many mistakes. One of my biggest mistakes is judging anyone on one action. I’m talking kid or adult here. I’m talking the stuff that’s not pretty to talk about, like pondering parenting skills while watching a struggling kid. Or thinking a kid’s mean at heart because they are trying on the meanness trait. Or even pretending to know what is going on with anyone from a few interactions.
I don’t know what’s going on. All I know is kindness wins. Everyone could use more kindness. Whenever I scold one of my kids, I see them shrink before me. I’ve watch them shrink when another adult scolds them. Goodness, we all scold children. I’m no parenting expert, but if I then remember to find love inside me and add that to the shrinking violet in front of me, well, it helps. It helps a lot.
You just got so angry during that game. Goodness, you hit your sister. Oh sweetie, I still love you. Can you feel me loving you?
It’s what I have to do with myself when I’ve scolded my children. Oh, Nancy, your tone of voice was horrible just now. But I love you. If I can’t find the love for me, I can’t find the love for that kid who is pushing my trigger buttons.
So often I want an answer for how to help my kids. Love in the form of kindness is the answer. Oh, I know it sucks to redo that assignment you got an F on. You have to do it if you want that A in your favorite subject. I love you. You know you can do it.
I so want to not judge anyone when they push my trigger buttons. I so want to save anyone having a hard time. The preschooler having a bad day; the kid angry when her team is losing; my daughter afraid to perform at school concerts. I have a savior complex. A wise friend told me once that people are pretty good at saving themselves. I try to remember this. I can offer people my love in the form of kindness. They can save themselves.