I saw this on Facebook over the weekend and I thought it was lovely:
I come from a kind family. I know that should I need any of them, they would come, at the drop of the proverbial hat. I think kindness is a learned behaviour and I am and will forever be grateful that my parents taught us well. It costs nothing, does it? I am trying to teach my children the same values – that you do not get on in life by being mean. That being kind and thoughtful is something to be proud of.
It is a constant lesson though as my eldest two go to school – the training ground for later life – where there is a daily struggle to be better / cleverer / quicker / stronger, and where all children, at some point, are not kind. It’s nature I suppose – a Darwinian survival of the fittest. They try out different behaviours and work out the best and easiest way for them to navigate their way through school life.
My youngest goes to a nursery and I am regularly pulled to one side, spoken to in hushed tones about her hitting another child over the head with some inappropriate (and usually solid) piece of plastic. Today, she apparently tried to cut another little girl’s dress with a pair of scissors (the lioness in me had to be restrained, as I almost roared something along the lines of “what on earth is she doing playing with scissors when she is 2!”). She has yet to learn the importance and value of kindness, although sometimes I see it shine out of her effortlessly (and I feel a sense of relief!).
It is a choice though, for all of us, and I explain this to my children. They, like the rest of us, have a choice to be kind or not. To care for others and be helpful / sympathetic / generous / thoughtful or not. I am trying to raise my kids as I was raised – with clear boundaries of what is right and wrong and with a sense of empathy for others. My dad is a retired GP and even when I take off my “hat of bias” I believe him to be the kindest of men. He would never have thought twice about going out in the middle of the night in his capacity as local doctor, to see a patient or a friend’s relative who was sick, even when he wasn’t the on-call doctor that night or weekend….he just did it, because, to him it was, quite simply, the right thing to do.
My aunt often tells us stories – of when she was a teenager, living with her 3 brothers and elder sister – and how she would talk my dad into lending her money for this and that, never bothered if or when she paid him back. She knew he was the kind one you see. She knew he valued her, more than the pennies he gave her. Stories like this make me proud….proud he is mine.
They are well matched, my parents….my mum would give you her last penny if she thought it would help or make you happy. She was always so giving of her time and talents (not that she ever though she was talented in anything – but those issues can wait) and would happily spend her weekends trailing me and my horse up and down the country in all bloody weathers, just because I asked and she wanted to help.
Some of those memories are the best for me just now. The days when it was just her and I. We’d set off to a one or two-day event with my horse George, and stay in a local B&B somewhere, usually in the pissing-down rain, smuggling my tack into the bedroom without the proprietor noticing, so we could clean it the night before. Giggling to ourselves at the ridiculousness of it all. Having dinner out at a local restaurant after bedding the horse down in a local stable for the night. Laughing. Laughing a lot. Those were some of my best days with her. We had such fun together. I miss that so much. I miss her.
It’s a constant thing, by the way. Yes, sometimes it hits me like a freight train and I physically crumble into a heap on the floor. But mostly, it’s just like a dull ache that you can’t shake and several times a day something reminds you of why this ache exists, because over the past 12 months it has become such a constant thing that I often don’t notice it is there, until I see something, or hear something or a thought crosses my mind. Then, there it is….that painful pang of acknowledgement.
I was at a gig just before Christmas (I sing in a band – more on that at some point I’m sure) and as I was on stage singing, I noticed a young man get up and start dancing. He had on slipper-type loafers and as I was in the middle of blasting out “Sex on Fire”, a thought occurred to me…..Dad might need slippers for Christmas – I would speak to Mum to check and make sure I got the right size. Then it hit me afresh, mid-song….I can’t do that anymore. I can’t check with her about anything – and it took a lot of strength in that moment to keep smiling and keep singing.
In those moments – when reality forces its way through, it does take strength to not crumble. You have to take a deep breath, focus on what is happening right now, on what is being said, or what you are listening to, or what you are doing. The times when you don’t, when either it catches you off-guard or you fail to muster the right amount of strength in that exact moment, that is when you crumble. Those are the times when a tidal wave of emotion explodes out of you, and it can be embarrassing, cathartic, humbling and draining all at the same time. It’s like a grief that I am not yet allowed to wallow in. I feel like I need to keep some of the grief back, for when I do lose her completely. Surely, if I let it all out now there will be nothing left.
I crack on with the daily stuff instead, swallowing the pain away, suppressing it, focusing on the here and now. The lunch Mabel needs for nursery. Archie’s homework – is it in his book bag ready to go? Martha’s PE kit for her gymnastics competition and her spellings. Then I find it, tucked at the bottom of his book bag. A handmade card from my children.
And it makes me smile. It makes me smile because my children are kind. They are kind like their granny and their papa.