Today's act of kindness has really made me think. Or rather, reflect. It made me reflect on the first time we embarked on this madness last year and how most of my memories are tied up in the grander gestures. I remember the cupcakes we took to the Brixham firefighters, and how they were so chuffed they let the Lads sit up in the fire engines and try on the night vision goggles. I remember the bubbles we gave out to stroppy teenagers at the park and how they instantly became less stroppy, giggling and chasing the swirling, floating spheres across the grass.
These gestures stick in the memory, perhaps because they took a little planning and physical effort. But what about the ones that took some internal effort? Some kind of emotional shift? Surely those are important too?
Today's act of kindness was quiet and low-key. Barely perceptible, perhaps, for others. But for me, it was beautiful. For Little Lad, it was pivotal.
As you might remember from the Day Eight of the Kindness Calendar, it was recently Little Lad's birthday. Historically, my Lads have been lucky enough to have the kind of mum who gives up her life and debit card for the weeks leading up to their birthdays to plan and implement their all-important parties. Unfortunately, this year we have had to scale back and encourage the Lads to choose a simple birthday outing instead. This caused no issues . . . until now.
Now as much as I'm all up for the Lads not receiving RIDICULOUS amounts of presents in the form of shooting, flashing, whirring plastic pieces, I could sympathise a wee bit with Little Lad this morning as he lamented the absence of such stuff. What with our main gift of a Beano subscription, and no party attended by hundreds of small children thrusting presents into his hands, he obviously felt a bit of a gift chasm.
(Now before you start to feel sorry for the little chap, let it be known that he HAS received plenty of lovely presents from close friends and family. It's just a sad sign of the times when a seven-year-old mourns the difference between a perfectly acceptable and gratifying pile of presents, and an over-the-top, embarrassingly excessive mountain of them)
This feeling was enhanced this morning as Little Lad was getting ready for a classmate's birthday party, and he asked why he should give his friend a present when he himself didn't receive one from him. Especially when the gift consisted of a crystal set he really wanted and a chocolate bar he had never tasted. Henceforth burst a gentle lecture about giving for giving's sake which did not go down particularly well.
Anyway, I sent him off into the kitchen to write in his friend's birthday card before getting dressed. This was a daring move, I know, as a pencil-wielding Little Lad in a bit of a mood has, historically, not been a good idea. But, satisfied that myself and his dad had made all the points that needed to be made about generosity, gratitude and kindness, we had to let him loose on this one and just see what happened.
This is what happened . . .
Could that message be any sunnier or kinder? It's the brackets: (very much) that finished me off.
So there you have it. Quiet. Low-key. But an emotional shift in my Little Lad's head and heart that spoke volumes maybe not to his friend Jamie, but to himself, to me and to his Dad. And he presented the card to us with such a casual cheer that I knew he'd gone into that kitchen thinking one thing and come out of it, brandishing this card, thinking another. He even went on to help me wrap Jamie's present and got dressed for the party without incident (NOT usual, believe me).
As I'm an old hippy really, the Lads and I have talked before about the fact that we all have something called a 'Kind Mind'. It's something we rely on at challenging times when it might be easier to be mean or flippant or thoughtless, but we're continually learning that when we use our 'Kind Minds' we rarely regret it. In fact, the kindness grows in ways we couldn't imagine (case in point: Big Lad later gave Little Lad his two quid pocket money for no reason whatsoever. See?). It's basically our version of 'Namaste'.
So it was Little Lad's 'Kind Mind' that I was so proud of today.
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