From the moment the tiny plus sign or the words “pregnant” appear in the window of the plastic stick, we start dreaming. We hope for the child to be happy and successful. For each of us, how we define those two things vary. Perhaps it comes with being strong, smart, athletic, or adventurous. I dream of all of those things for my daughters. But perhaps one of the greatest traits to possess is kindness.
I never thought I’d find my heart bursting and tears welling in my eyes when a preschool teacher stopped me in the hallway to tell me how kind my daughters were. On that particular day, a classmate had arrived at school in tears. My oldest immediately stopped playing to go to her friend’s side. First, she hugged her friend then she sat beside her friend until they were laughing.
A few weeks ago, we attended the girls’ swim team banquet. Awards were given out for the swimmers who improved the most and earned the most points. There was also the Coach’s Award. My oldest got it — not by being the fastest or winning. She got it by showing up to practice despite disappointing races, always getting back into the water to try again, listening and supporting her teammates.
More than likely, the award came after going to the meet to simply cheer on her sister and teammates. But when the team was one girl short on a relay, she found a suit and goggles. She even volunteered to swim a new stroke. Why? She wanted to give her little sister and others the chance to race.
Not every child can be the most gifted athlete, scholar, or artist. But anyone can be kind. You often hear people say kindness is taught at home. We do try to press upon the girls the importance of kindness and empathy. But we are not with them every second of the day. They are the ones comforting a sad friend, cheering on a teammate, standing up to someone being picked on, sharing food with someone who is hungry and asking someone sitting alone to play with them.
I wish I could take credit for all of their good deeds. But ultimately, they are responsible for their own actions. Often, I only hear about their little acts of kindness when someone pulls me aside to pay me the greatest compliment by saying these four words: “your child is kind.”
Make another parent’s day the next time you see their child bestowing kindness on another and being a blessing to someone else.