“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures.” -Bob Kerrey
In the fall of 1995, my oldest child, Michael was five years old, just beginning kindergarten. Middle kid, Kris, was two and a half and baby Andrew was freshly born. Michael was in the afternoon class which meant that I was dropping him off right after lunch- at the very time I would normally be putting Kris down for a nap. Drop off at his school was not as simple as pulling up in front of the building and letting him out of the van. No. Parents were required to park their cars in the lot and walk up to the front of the school and stand there with their child until they let them in and the children had to be in line before they could enter. Because Kris’s nap time was delayed that meant that when it was time to pick up Michael, I had to wake up a cranky toddler. And then I had to add a very miserable newborn baby into the equation. And Andrew was quite miserable- crying most of the time, when I wasn’t holding him.
One day stands out in my mind as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was the day Michael needed to bring a pumpkin to school to decorate. Michael unbuckled himself and climbed out of the van. I unbuckled Kris, bringing my energetic two year old around to the other side of the van, reminding Michael to stay by the side of the van and got a red-faced screaming 3 week old Andrew out of his car seat. (This was during the transition time when infant car seats were just coming out with handles and being baby #3, Andy used his older siblings’ “old fashioned” car seat.)
We slowly crossed the parking lot, me carrying Andrew in one arm, holding Kris’s hand in my free hand, Michael walking closely to my other side, struggling to keep hold of his pumpkin, which wasn’t that big but still a challenge for a five year old. Within minutes of reaching the line, Michael dropped his pumpkin which rolled away, causing him to have to lose his place in line. As he chased the runaway pumpkin, I turned to find Kris had vanished. Andrew, who had been quiet for the moment, let out his finest baby caterwauling. I was near tears as I called out for Kris, looking around, while trying to help Michael gather his folder and snack which had fallen out of his book bag when he bent to pick up the pumpkin.
And then a calm voice came from just behind me. “Here, let me help you,” my life saver said, as she bent down to help Michael. “Your little one is right there in the bushes.” And she pointed out Kris, whose head popped up from behind the bushes.
Once the kindergartners had filed in, she introduced herself, “I’m Denise. I have three kids too so I know how it is.”
I never forgot Denise’s kindness, even nearly 22 years later. She didn’t know that this kindergarten schedule was disrupting our daily schedule or how hard it was for my routine oriented kids to adjust, in addition to the new baby. She didn’t know that my recovery from Andrew’s birth was moving very slowly. She didn’t know that Andy cried a lot- more than my other two children combined. She could have stood by silently, like the rest of the moms out there.
All she knew was that she saw someone who needed help. That one moment- something that she most likely forgot by the time she got home, stayed with me. And I have tried to pass on the same kindness to others.
“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.
Have a good one!