My son came home from camp today. I could tell right away something was bothering him, and like any good mom, I pestered him enough until he finally told me what had happened. It was one of those moments in which my heart broke a little. Well, a lot really. Of all the things that my kids are, I have pride in the fact that they are kind. They see something that they know isn’t right and they want to fix it or help in some way.
Today it was a big problem for such little kids.
And even though he’s past it for now, a few hours later, I’m still dwelling on it. I know it’s one thing that will unfortunately stick in his mind, and unfortunately mine now, too. Maybe some would say it’s a “life lesson,” but wouldn’t it be great if it hadn’t happened at all?
Everyday we see people wearing “Kindness Matters” shirts, “Blessed” shirts, “Be the Change” shirts. It takes one quick Google search to see that they are all over Etsy, Amazon and even retailers like Target and Kohl’s for both kids and adults. Schools all over the nation are teaching SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) programs to help children navigate bullying, making friends, gossip, cliques and even racism; all big, hard topics to deal with. Today, my son had to put what he learned into practice and I am thankful he had some coping skills to defer to in order to try showing others some kindness and grace.
It unfortunately got me thinking though. We, as adults and parents, are our children’s primary teachers in life – even when we don’t realize it. They see the way we treat the driver who accidentally cuts us off, they hear how we speak to the solicitor who calls on the phone or knocks on the door. They feel strongly and deeply about many of the same issues we do simply because of the environment and the people around them. Children learn by imitation. Our words and actions matter.
The incident that happened at camp was learned behavior that came from somewhere, someone, something. It pains me that there are still moments of such ugliness that won’t change unless WE are the change and show our children how to lead with kindness. I’m thankful that he recognized the behavior for what it was and that it’s at least taken this long for it to happen. Things won’t and can’t change overnight, but when I look at my children and so many others like them, I’ll continue to look at them as hope for the future. So, wear the shirt, talk the talk even when we don’t think they’re watching – because I guarantee they are.