It’s so fitting that I’m writing this a day late for the Day of Kindness. Though I pride myself in celebrating and elevating this behavior every day possible, my timing is either laughable or maybe abstractly right on time...
My youngest and I were sitting on our sofa. She finished preparing for school and so as part of her morning routine, she was able to play Minecraft. As she waited for the game to load she turns to me and says, “Mom ‘be kind.’ Hmmm kiiind...” she let the word “kind” ruminate for a bit and then asked, “Mom shouldn’t ‘kind’ be pronounced with a short ‘i’, kind (ken-d)?”.
I thought about it for a second. “Yes. But what is Das Kind?”.
She is currently taking German on Duolingo and she responds excitedly, “The child!”.
”Exactly. Think about it. What is a child like?”
She named a variety of adjectives none of which were completely profound and so I interjected...
”A child is new to this place, so they’re always exploring. They’re open to new ideas and new experiences, unlike adults who’ve learned the things they think they like and then routinely stick to them. Children are vulnerable and often emotionally transparent. They engage in innocence and adventure and boldness. When I think of ‘be kind’ I think of being child like, not child-ish, but living in a way that is vulnerable to the possibility of learning someone or something new”.
She agreed with me. But said, “I thought kindness was being nice.”
She isn’t wrong in her assumption...
I think a lot of people believe this, that kindness is synonymous with niceness and pleasantries. But in my mind, kindness is actually vulnerability and empathy. It’s the ability, or the attempt, to connect with other living things and that feels nice. It feels nice when someone is kind to us and therefore we attach that feeling to the word kind. But kindness is an action. You must do something in order to be kind.
I challenge people to be kind every day, not just on World Kindness Day. Embody the characteristics that make others around you feel nice. Do acts that make others feel nice. Say the words that make others feel nice. This means you’re going to need to be vulnerable and empathetic. You’re going to need to tap into the boldness of your inner child.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working to make life more equitable for all people. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.