Several weeks ago, as I walked Ava to school we saw the mother of one of her classmates, a little boy with special needs. She told me how sometimes the children in her class are mean to him and exclude him from games or skip him on the lunch line. She asked me why kids are so mean to him when he didn’t do anything to them, and I truthfully wasn’t sure what to tell her. The real truth is, the world can be an ugly place sometimes and those who appear different are targets of unkindness.
Shortly after that conversation with Ava I visited her classroom for an event and the little boys mother pulled me aside and told me that Ava had been sitting with and including her son in whatever activity they were doing. I was taken back and didn’t expect a 7 year old to have the emotional capacity to realize this little boy needed compassion. Ava’s teachers verified that Ava stood with him on the line for school lunch or in line for activities at recess to ensure he got a turn and that the little boy seemed to take comfort in the fact that Ava was always around.
The following morning while walking with Ava again, I asked her about the little boy and told her that her kindness makes a difference in the world. What she said next blew me away, she said “Sometimes he annoys me a little bit but I know he doesn’t mean it so I just pretend I didn’t notice”. Her emotional capacity made me smile, that at a young age she realized some people require more patience than others and for good reason. I hope that sentiment lives on within her as she ventures further into the world and realizes not everyone knows how to be kind.
It is easy to be lost in our own frustrations and take it out on others but we also don’t realize just how big an impact we leave on others. We never know what someone is dealing with at home or in their own minds and being harsh doesn’t help them any. It doesn’t take much to be kind, even if it’s just a polite nod on the train in the morning, spread kindness.