What I've noticed during this month of Ramadan, is that when you put your focus on something in particular - in this case, kindness - you realise how it touches your every day life without even realising it. And although I'm not fasting like the hubby and the millions of other Muslims around the world, I have shifted my focus. And with that shift has come a kind of sharpening of the senses. I am now tuned in - whether I make an effort or not - to kindness.
I realised this tonight, when I was doing my weekly stint as a soccer mom (or 'footy mam' if you're from where I'm from), watching Big Lad race around the pitch with his mates from Brixham Development Academy. If you're following these blog posts you'll remember how much the Lads LOVE Shaun, their coach, and the slightly weird card they made him on Day 3 of the Ramadan Kindness Calendar.
Big Lad is actually the only one signed up to the Academy and requiring my financial output / taxi services week to week. Little Lad seems happy rollicking around the pitch with his friend, Alfie, who also has a big brother playing, and snarfing the snacks I bring along with me.
As I watched them tonight, along with Alfie's parents, I remembered that, really, it was kindness that has brought us together. Kindness that has given Little Lad a playmate each Friday night; kindness that gives me a chance to chat and laugh and relax a little with actual other adults; and (because Alfie's mum is the best bargain hunter EVER) it's kindness that scored me a cheap deal on a hotel in St Ives recently and secured me the on-trend, otherwise unattainable toy Little Lad had on his Christmas list.
I can vividly remember sitting on the pitch sidelines when Big Lad first started at the club not long after we'd moved to Brixham. I remember my toes were bloody freezing because I'd worn flip flops on account of the fact that Devon was supposed to be warm. I remember Little Lad had wanted me to kick a spare ball around with him but because of the flip flops and the freezing toes, it wasn't gonna happen. Cue Alfie and his Dad who effortlessly welcomed Little Lad into their game of penalty shots and the kindness started there.
Skip forward to over a year later and we've got this Friday night ritual down to a tee. Yes, once upon a time I was doing comedy clubs and pub crawls and house parties of a Friday eve, but these days, I'm rocking it at the footy pitch with some muesli bars and some pretty cool people.
And when Alfie's mum told me what a tough day he'd had at school today (fisticuffs and everything), I glanced over at him and Little Lad and realised how important this ritual potentially was for them. The fact that they get on so well, the fact that they so easily fall into a weekly kickabout, is kind of wonderful. The kindness Little Lad shows Alfie each week has become standard now, and it's reciprocated in the most natural way. Surely it is these basic foundations of kindness, which our kids perform with ease, that will help them to grow up with a kind of armour of compassion. A natural way to be in the world that will keep them safe as well as strong.
After my whimsical moments of such pondering, I realised the final whistle had blown and Big Lad sprinted over to me to blurt out that he had managed to sneak some kindness into the match. "I told each person in the entire group something positive that they had done. AND I didn't even have to lie, Mum, they really did all do at least one thing really well. Even my opponents."
Believe me, when a ten year old boy with anger issues can praise the opposing team for their efforts, there is still some good in this world.
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