“He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil
“Love is Kind.” 1Corinthians 13:4
Dear Me, About Kindness…
We parents don’t talk a lot about kindness because it’s sort of an understood. However, it is so rich, with so many aspects to it, and so very vital to having a good relationship with the kids that we shouldn’t take it for granted.
What is kindness? To get at that answer let’s take a look at what kindness is not. Right after Paul tells us that Love is kind, he lists its opposite: envious, boastful, proud, rude, selfish, easily angered and keeping a record of wrongs (instead of forgiving).
For example, think back to when you first had Timothy and he was into peeing on you every time you changed his diaper (and occasionally projectile pooping. Didn’t even know that was a thing). Troy thought it was a riot, especially because the baby never did it to him. Not even once. He actually boasted with pride about it – which, as we have just established was not kind or loving. I was envious that he could change a diaper and stay dry and so was angrily holding a grudge.
One day we were watching TV and I needed to change Timothy. Troy made some crack about a raincoat and then turned back to his soccer game. I snapped. Lifting up Timothy’s feet, I lined up his business end like a WWII sniper, undid his diaper, and waved cold air on the trigger. A beautiful yellow arc of baby fluids pegged Troy, soaking his shoulder. I then pretended to be shocked and apologetic. This was unkind (but oh so worth it!).
OK, so far this is about Troy. What about the kids?
Just like every other aspect of love, kindness is a discipline. Yes, it is instinctual for many moms (and dads) but when you get tired and stressed kindness is the first thing to go.
Ponder a moment: when you are at your ugliest, how do you behave? You are rude, boastful, envious, prideful, selfish, temperamental and spiteful. Now, yes, the spiteful thing is usually reserved for Troy (see story above), and you tend to reserve envy, pride and boasting for your *frienemies, but you can be very rude to the kids when you are tired (snappish words in response to a question or need for redirection), selfish (no, I don’t want to read you a book right now), and lose your temper with them over minor things – each of which bruises your love relationship with them. You forget to be kind.
So now that we’ve discussed what kindness is not, next time we’ll look at what kindness is – and how to maintain it even when you don’t feel like it!
Love, Older Wiser You
*Like an M&M candy, on the outside the relationship looks sweet and pretty but at the core they drive you nuts.