It was the day my daughter chose compassion. She chose not be a bystander. She chose to put her friends needs ahead of her own. I wasn’t there to guide her or hold her hand or remind her of the right thing to do.
It was her group of girlfriends playing at recess, when they decided one of their friends were no longer included. They made fun of her appearance and told her she wasn’t allowed to play with them. In that moment, my daughter had three choices. 1) Join the teasing 2) Become a bystander 3) Stand up to her friends and tell them it’s wrong. My 6-year-old took her friend who was being teased by the hand and told her friends if they didn’t include everyone, then she was done playing. They refused, so my daughter walked away. She told them it was wrong. She told them how it made her feel. And when they didn’t change their minds, she chose to walk away. There was no bad mouthing, no name calling, no hate. She continued to choose kindness, even to those who didn’t.
As my first grader finished telling me her story, I got down to look her in the eye and told her how incredibly proud I was of her. How doing the right thing isn’t always easy. How powerful a simple act of kindness truly is. Her response? A smirk on her lips and a, “Yeah, I know!” She gets it. She just gets it. She knew it was the right thing, even without my reassurance.
I’m not saying my littles are never going to choose wrong. They have. And they will. You and I have, and we will. Whether our emotions get the best of us and we let those unloving words come spilling out, or we are too scared to step in and therefore become a bystander. We’re all flawed.
But, Mommas? I’m here to tell you to keep preaching. Kindness. Compassion. Empathy. Love. Trust me, they are listening. When I told my husband about this, I cried. My heart was so full and overflowing it came pouring out as tears. When you think you’re not being heard, let me reassure you, you are. I’ll say it again. THEY ARE LISTENING.
Our kids are taught that bullying and teasing and violence is wrong, but let’s put the tools in their hands to fix it. Let’s tell them how powerful their words are. How powerful their actions are. How powerful a small act of kindness can be and how far it can spread. I believe we can start this beautiful chain reaction that begins with us.
Choose compassion. Choose kindness. Choose others.