Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


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What Did You Do to Show Kindness Today?

friends-kindness

This is the daily question we ask our kindergartener. Along with, “What was your favorite part of school today?” and, “Tell me about what you did in gym class,” we also want to communicate that being kind to others is just as important. We want to make sure we’re doing what we can to help him develop both academically and socially. What good to the world is it to be smart if you don’t share that gift with others?

Kindness can be quite a broad topic for a five-year-old, so we focus in on specific behaviors such as helping a friend up if they fall down, noticing if someone is feeling sad and asking them if they’re okay, smiling and saying “Hi” to people passing by, etc. These target behaviors are meant to help him develop skills in becoming more aware of those around him and treating others how he would like to be treated. We also like to point out when we see these things in others by calling attention to a peer who shares their toy with us or thanking someone who holds the door open for us.

In the early childhood sphere, we often talk about how teachers will see more of whatever they give attention to. As parents, we try to do the same. Very often, we miss the mark—this parenting thing is difficult! Information overload in parenting is a real thing, and it is impossible to do everything we’re told we should do. As parents, we have had to try our best to cut out all of the noise and get down to the basics of what type of people we hope our sons will grow to be. Kindness is one trait we hope they possess. We take this journey day by day, one example at a time, calling attention to the kindness we eagerly anticipate seeing more of.


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Everyone Needs a Best Friend

Nurturing and cultivating friendships is a vital part of growing up, but for some children, making friends may not come easily.

When we moved into a new neighborhood, my daughter Gabrielle definitely struggled. When we saw a group of children her age playing we immediately went over to introduce ourselves but the kids ran away. Gabrielle ran after them but when she couldn’t catch up she burst into tears. It broke my heart to see her hurting! But there wasn’t anything I could do. I didn’t know how to make the neighborhood children like her and want to be her friend.

But it turns out she didn’t need me to make anyone be her friend. Last summer Bailey came into my daughter’s life. Because of Gabrielle’s special needs, I needed someone to be with her during the week while I was at work, and Bailey gladly accepted the position. A week later, I received a text message from Bailey:  

“I do not think of Gabrielle as a ‘job.’ She has become a good friend and I am glad I am spending my summer with her.” 

I was overwhelmed! My daughter had made a friend who appreciates her for who she is, not what she can or cannot do.

Bailey exposes Gabrielle to the teenage experiences that I can’t: trying on dresses at the mall, laying out at the pool, playing guitar and piano together, rocking out to country music, painting fingernails and braiding each other’s hair. Bailey even took Gabrielle to a festival on her day off, and the two of them had a blast dancing to music and riding rides. Hearing the two girls giggle has been music to my ears!

When Bailey left for college last August, she promised Gabrielle she would stay in touch and true to her word, Bailey continued to be a part of Gabrielle’s life through phone calls and Skype. When she came home for the holidays, Bailey introduced Gabrielle to her college friends and they all whisked Gabrielle away for lunch or ice cream.

According to Bailey,

“Gabrielle may be different in many ways; she may need my help to walk and care for her when she has a seizure, but most of all she needs my friendship and I need hers. Gabrielle isn’t just a job; she is like family to me now. I don’t care for her because it’s what I’m paid to do. I care for her because I love her. She has helped me more than she will ever know. She has taught me selflessness, patience and most of all, unconditional love.”

Everyone needs a best friend. Or should I say a Bailey?

– Diann